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More than 12,000 kids have redeemed 23,954 medals as the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme, which aims to increase Kiwi kids’ connection with nature, celebrates its second anniversary.
Designed to help children and their families explore New Zealand’s great outdoors and be rewarded for doing so, the programme was launched in March 2016 by Toyota and the Department of Conservation (DOC).
“We are excited the programme has gained such momentum with a great increase in participation in the last 12 months,” said Alistair Davis, the CEO of Toyota New Zealand.
In its first 12 months the programme attracted 7,729 medal redemptions. Since March 2017 a further 16,225 medals have been redeemed with over 12,000 kids having ventured to sites, which are located nationwide, or completed an action at home. 4,479 of these children have completed more than one adventure in their local regions.
The action medals have also been popular with 3,976 having been redeemed so far. The Nature Champion medal, which encourages children to spread the word about something or somewhere in nature that they think is special, has had the most medals redeemed with 1049 so far.
Other popular action medals include the Pest Detective (629), Get out Camping (612) and the Weed Warrior (488).
The Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme has grown from 30 sites in 2016 to 98 now. Forty-six new sites have been added in the last 12 months, making the programme more accessible to more people.
Alternatively children can take advantage of the ‘take action’ activities that can be completed in your own backyard. Medals can be earned by working on a variety of conservation tasks from becoming a pest detective to a weed warrior.
Mr. Davis says it’s fantastic to be working with DOC on a project that encourages Kiwi kids to conserve our natural environment and have fun doing it.
“Like DOC, Toyota is passionate about making it easy for families to have great outdoor experiences and realise the environment is worth protecting.”
DOC’s Education Manager Anita Anderson says research demonstrates that children can establish lifelong connections to nature if they actively engage with it between the ages of six and ten years old.
“The programme allows young people to engage with our natural environment and want to care for it now and into the future.
“It’s also about getting outside, enjoying nature, and reducing time indoors and in front of screens.”
Fine autumn days are a great chance to get out and explore a variety of sites and activities from Smuggler’s Bay near Whangarei Heads to two sites on Stewart Island/Rakiura and everywhere in between.
Toyota Kiwi Guardians is about inspiring tomorrow’s leaders to protect our land and its birds and animals, said Mr Davis. It highlights family-friendly activities at specific sites that support kids to engage their senses, take risks and, ultimately, earn themselves a medal in the outdoors.
The most popular sites, in no particular order, are: