NZ: Zespri kids' health initiative to span North America -

NZ: Zespri kids' health initiative to span North America

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NZ: Zespri kids' health initiative to span North America

New Zealand fruit company Zespri has launched its second Kiwifruit for Kids campaign in the U.S. and has slated plans to expand the concept in Canada and Mexico this year.

The campaign - designed to promote healthy lifestyles for kids and raise awareness for childhood obesity - was launched on Sep. 10 and is expected to have greater supermarket involvement this year compared to the inaugural initiative in 2011.

People will be able to participate in the campaign on Facebook or via, earning points for their charity of choice by answering health trivia questions, exercising, checking in to supermarkets, and playing various kiwifruit-related games.

The charities are divided into six geographic regions and the one with the most points by Oct. 21 will receive US$10,000, the runner-up will receive US$5,000 and the remaining four charities will receive US$1,500 for playing.

The charities involved are Treeswing, Chicago Run, the I Can Foundation, Play Rugby USA, Louie's Kids and Live Well Colorado.

Campaign spokesperson Margaux Rathburn, who is also a certified nutritional therapy practitioner, told she got involved because the state of childhood obesity in the U.S. was "shocking", and Kiwifruit for Kids was a great way to raise awareness about this important issue.

"There’s actually an active element to the game; while the majority is online through the website, Zespri really made sure there was a getting off the web component.

"You can go  on the website and report what physical activity you did that day, and that encourages kids to do their favorite sport; they can run, they can swim and they can earn points that way."

Rathburn says kids can be picky, but what is great about kiwifruit is that they are both delicious and loaded with nutrients to improve children's health.

"It's loaded with Vitamin C, more so than an orange which a lot of people don’t know; Vitamin C is not only important for boosting the immune system, which kids need because they can always pick up bugs at school and bring them home.

"It’s got potassium which helps to keep our heart healthy and it helps for healthy skin. It’s also a low fat source of Vitamin E, which is also important for helping maintain healthy skin.

"It also has tons of fiber, and that’s something that’s very important for kids as that promotes healthy digestion, and gives them a sense of fullness so that way they won’t be likely to snack on junk food later."

She adds that because kiwifruit have fructose it is easy to include in a diabetic diet.

Supermarkets are going to have signage and point of sale displays, will be announcing all the children's charities participatin, and will be educating staff in instructing people how to play.

The campaign organizers claim supermarkets are getting much more on board in 2012 after seeing last year's success when Northeast charity Crossroads won 26,088 points. The goal is for the winner to beat that figure this year.

The aim is to take Kiwifruit for Kids to more countries. In Mexico a Facebook application will be developed to be run from the Zespri Latin America facebook page, while the Canadian model will involve working with various retail partners "helping kids eat healthy and be more active".

At the time of writing, charity I Can Foundation from the South was in the lead with 3,153 points.

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