Without any fanfare, or it would seem, media interest SPARC have decided to discontinue the Mission On initiative.
The Mission On website received many column inches of bad press in the lead up to the 2008 election when John Key criticised the expenditure on the website. SPARC, due to the political nature of their funding were ‘prevented’ from defending the program. Afterall, there was a high probability that they would be cap in hand to a National government.
And so it came to pass.
Unless I am mistaken there was nothing written about the website being removed. There one day, gone the next. Many thousands of hours reduced to absolutely nothing. The government, while accusing SPARC of wasting money on this website, have performed a greater sin in removing it.
The 28,268 children (as at May 13, 2009) who regularly visited the site, and played the games that taught them about how to play outside and build vegetable gardens and eat properly are left with nothing except the promise of new sporting equipment. A rugby ball or basketball is useless unless there are people available to teach children how to use them – in our decile 10 school there is no-one. I’m guessing that the National Party initiative will be as ineffective as they claimed the Mission On website to be.
It’s a tragic waste of money.
Read my original post here.
And here’s the notification on the SPARC website – a wonderful understatement.
Disclosure: I worked at the agency (but not on this account) that brought the Mission On website to life. I know the many many hours of research and focus grouping that went into ensuring the website would be a success for the young people that interacted with it.
The Sunday Star Times reported on May 3 that John Key and the National Government are following through on overhauling the sporting sector. This includes cutting budgets at SPARC, the agency that gave us Push Play and Mission On.
The jury is out on Mission On and whether it has provided impetus to young people to do things other than sit in front of a television or computer screen. Ironically Mission On was based around a website, and so Key immediately dismissed it as being a waste of tax money. In fact, Key suggested they could provide sporting equipment to every primary school in the country for the money spent on the Mission On site. This may have been true but it takes teachers to teach, and giving kids soccer balls is less than half the solution. And what do the 28,268 kiwi kids who have signed up to Mission On do once the website is closed down. National would have them join the local rugby club.
The Push Play campaign has surely been successful in getting New Zealanders to think about making healthy choices. “Take the stairs instead of the lift”, “Exercise for 30 minutes every day”…all of these little homilies, that I remember, are as a result of the long term Push Play campaign.
It seems ludicrous to me that a government that will, and is, witnessing an increase in obesity and associated health problems is removing this sort of encouragement from our daily lives. They say they will concentrate on providing funding to sports clubs. This will only target some of New Zealand.
The effectiveness of campaigns like Push Play and Mission On are difficult to measure. But that doesn’t mean we should throw them out.
SPARC are now going to align their strategy with National’s objectives – concentrating on school sport, children’s sport, high performance development and identification of our next sporting heroes. Anyone not already a member of a sports club will undoubtedly miss out.