We’ve all seen the literature around minimising children’s ‘screen time’, but many young Kiwis are still far exceeding the recommended ‘no more than two hours a day’ limit! The school holidays are especially challenging, with long days that drag on and on and televisions, computers and game consoles at the ready. Lynfield Youth and Leisure Centre managed by YMCA teamed up with the Ministry of Social Development to deliver Breakaway, a fully funded programme that both encourages and provides physical activity.

Open to young people from the community, between 11 and 17 years of age, Breakaway’s aim is to get local youths away from their screens and give them an excuse to get moving. The programme is based on physical activity and will ideally give young people a chance to learn a new skill. “Between 10am and 2:30pm, over the Christmas and April school holidays, kids can come along and play squash and badminton, experience some soccer coaching, take part in Crossfit-style training or boxing, and play recreational games outside as part of the Ultimate Sports Day,” explains Jonathan Peddie, Manager of the Lynfield Youth and Leisure Centre managed by YMCA. 

Completely free for young people, both morning tea and lunch are provided to keep energy levels high and different activities are run on different days, so people can head long every day of the week if they want to. “We ran this for three weeks in January and have already had a great uptake,” says Jonathan. “We’ve got expert coaches and trainers involved and a great programme developed for the April school holidays.”

The summer stint of Breakaway proved a hit with local young people, including 14 year old Gillian Xie, an Under 17 Waitakere rep player for badminton. Gillian loved the programme and used it as a way to get extra game time in over the break. “I went every day of the school holidays and played both badminton and squash,” says Gillian. “It was a good chance to play against all the other people in the programme for experience, fitness and practice to improve my reaction time and reflexes. I’ll definitely be back for the April school holiday programme!” 

Jonathan’s aim is to have 500 people through the programme. To find out more, call the Centre on 09 627 1642.