Children and young people

Children and young people need to be active at home, at school, at play during the weekends and in the community. They should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity each day.

Check out the pamphlet "Sit less, move more, sleep well" to learn about the different intensity levels and low cost ideas to encourage regular physical activity for kids.

Physical activity has aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening benefits for young children:

  • Aerobic activities increase their heart rate and keep them fit.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities build strength in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. They improve joint function and reduce the potential for injury.
  • Bone-strengthening activities can also double as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities!

Active play helps kids with coordination, balance and motor skills and provides a foundation for many physical activities. Having these skills is an essential part of enjoyable participation and a lifelong interest in an active lifestyle.

Get some tips on fundamental movement skills for primary aged children and ways to set them up for fun in team sports (Raising Children NZ).

Download a factsheet on suitable physical activity ideas for children and young people [PDF].

We learn, grow, set and achieve goals, develop and master movement skills through sport and recreation. It is crucial we provide these important learning experiences for our children right from infancy.

The importance of play and having fun

Play allows children to experience fun, joy and laughter in a way that is important to them. It’s also where they develop and practice life skills.
Download an information sheet on the importance of play from Sport NZ [PDF].​

Many studies show the positive links between direct experiences in nature and children’s mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.
Read about the benefits of connecting children with nature from an early age [Department of Conservation PDF].

Agents of Discovery is a FREE educational games app from the Christchurch City Council that uses augmented reality to interact with the world around you. Use a smart phone to solve fun challenges while exploring Christchurch's awesome parks. There are new missions every season!

The Muse Community Music Trust runs music and movement classes for children 5 years +.

Enjoyment and fun are key drivers for children participating in sport with performance, challenge and improvement also being motivators. Multiple sport and recreation experiences are essential.

Find out about easy practical activities to spend time in nature or outdoors at home with your whānau (Department of Conservation).

The Canterbury Musical Parenting Association runs hands-on workshops on how to use music and movement in the everyday lives of tamariki. These workshops are suitable for anyone who interacts with children under 8 years including parents, whānau, teachers and other child focused professionals.

Ideas to get children and teenagers moving

Active transport like walking, cycling and scooting, provides an excellent opportunity for children and young people of all abilities to take part in physical activity. Nearly half of all children and young people aged 5–14 years usually use active transport to get to school.

Playing sport is a good way to encourage regular physical activity, and develop motor skills and encourage teamwork. Most schools over a variety of both social and more competitive sport opportunities. You can talk to your child’s teacher about what is available and how to get involved.

Kids BasketballThe following links are a great place to start:

The Kiwi Families website also has ideas on many different sports available to children and young people.

No Limits Netball is an adapted game that caters for young people aged 5 to 18 years of all abilities - including those with disabilities. The format encourages everyone to have a go and enjoy the fun of participating in a friendly, supportive environment.

Adolescents also often enjoy informal, unplanned activities such as social sport, dancing, skating, mountain biking, skateboarding, scootering and hanging out with friends. Find local opportunities with your child that are social and fun but also include some physical activity too.

Find out about roller skating classes for children 5 to 13 years from the Canterbury Skating Academy. They also run inclusive sensory sessions in Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

Find out more about encouraging teenagers to get physical active.

Download a free book on traditional Māori Games | Taonga Takaro - courtesy of Harko Brown (WAVE South Canterbury).

New Te Kīwai Fund to support tamariki and rangatahi to get active

Te Kīwai is a new fund developed in partnership between Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa. This two-year pilot fund is designed to support Māori wellbeing through play, active recreation and sport. 

Te Kīwai is available to tamariki and rangatahi 5 to 18 years living in Te Waipounamu, Rakiura and Rekohu/ Wharekauri, and is designed to help remove barriers to participation in sport and recreation.

Each tamariki or rangatahi is eligible for up to $300 per year to contribute to:

  • Clothes and shoes (such as uniforms, sneakers, boots);
  • Equipment (such as bats, racquets, balls);
  • Participation costs (such as membership fees, class fees, club dues); and
  • Transportation (such as fuel costs, bus tickets).

Find out more about the Te Kīwai Fund in Te Waipounamu, Rakiura and Rekohu/ Wharekauri, including how to apply.

Events for children and teens

Events are another way to get children and teens active. There are lots of events especially for school aged children, teenagers or families, or categories at larger events suitable for younger competitors. Examples include:

After school and holiday sport and recreation

A range of after school sports and recreation activities are available in Canterbury and Mid-Canterbury.

Find out about after-school programmes at the Kindness Foundation (formerly the Christchurch YMCA), including dance, gymnastics, basketball, archery and climbing.

Find an OSCAR-certified after school or holiday programme near you (The OSCAR Network).

July 2024 School Holiday Ideas
Introducing children to cycling

Cycling is a great family past-time and offers many benefits for children, such as:

  • spending time with parents or grandparents,
  • teaching them about road safety and bike handling,
  • sharing experiences,
  • increasing their confidence, and
  • being healthier.

Children can be introduced to cycling from a young age by using child seats or trailers on a parent’s bike, tag-along bikes, tricycles, balance bikes and bikes with training wheels.

It is important to teach children the basics from the start. Get them used to riding safely by wearing a bike helmet from the start and practising in a safe area away from traffic. The official New Zealand Code for cyclists has information about the skills needed for children to cycle safely.

Find out how parents or caregivers can teach or support their kids to ride a bike (Bike Ready).