Salesi Lua is of Tongan descent and attends kindergarten fulltime. Before Salesi was referred to the Active Futures programme in Otara, he spent the majority of his time at home after kindy.
At the time Salesi was referred to the Active Futures programme by Plunket’s Before School Check (B4SC), he was in the 99th percentile for BMI at 4 years, 2 months old
Salesi’s mother, Tiliana Lua, who is partially blind and pregnant in her second trimester, had initially missed the contact attempts – but appreciated the unannounced home visit and was interested in the programme.
Tiliana, who is diabetic herself, said she was worried that Salesi might become diabetic and develop other health problems from being overweight. Salesi is the second of three children, and Tiliana was motivated to support her son to improve his eating habits and increase his ability to be more physically active.
Prior to joining the programme, Salesi often ate junk food (such as chips and lollies) and drank sugary drinks. He did not like vegetables and his regular fruit intake was minimal. Tiliana also said Salesi was not keen on ‘physical activity’. The BE SMARTER resource was used to identify goals. Tiliana chose to work on physical activity with Salesi. In a small reserve across the road from where they live, Tiliana and Salesi learned some fun games to do together. He enjoyed this time with his mum and began to look forward to it.
The increased confidence, by way of praise and motivation from his mother, saw Salesi join the local rugby club. Salesi currently plays in an under six age grade level, although he is four years old. There has been a noticeable difference in Salesi’s confidence levels and attitude and his mother tells me ‘he loves going to training’. As his skills develop, his confidence continues to grow, and his ability to remain active on the field is increasing with each game.
The programme was able to provide financial support to pay for Salesi’s rugby fees and uniform in response to the commitment and progress made by the family. Salesi was able to successfully complete a six week pre-season training module with the rugby club.
Tiliana and Salesi have also made new goals for their family to work towards – these goals aim at increasing Salesi’s fruit and vegetable intake, trying other sports and even growing a vege garden!
Tiliana says Salesi is now self-motivated to participate in physical activities, enjoys playing outside more and often runs. Other benefits the family has experienced involve the budget – changes in their regular shopping list no longer including any purchases of junk food. Gradually, Salesi is exploring the tastes of different fruits – with bananas as his flavour of the month. A big achievement for the whole family is having water as their first choice, and Salesi now enjoys drinking water flavoured with fresh lemons.
The Lua family has also been connected with other services offered through Otara Health. These additional services have provided the family with items such as a ‘Pepi Pod’ for the new baby, and the benefits of the Auckland Wide Housing Initiative for a warm, dry and healthy home.
Tiliana and Salesi are now well on track to the half-way point of their programme. In spring 2018, the family plan to plant a veggie garden to learn how to grow vegetables for Salesi and his brother to enjoy.
The Lua family have enjoyed making positive health changes since taking part in Active Futures and plan to continue their journey.