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Making Connections. years: 9-10, key areas of learning: Mental Health, Food and Nutrition, Sport Studies


This online version of the book Making Connections, one of the series The Curriculum in Action, supports the implementation of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) by providing teachers with ideas for planning units of work to meet the identified learning needs of their year 9-10 students.

Making Connections establishes clear links, for students in these years, between the key areas of learning Mental Health, Food and Nutrition, and Sport Studies in Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999). It helps teachers to develop programmes through which their students will learn to make connections with one another, the community, the environment, and the wider world. The approaches suggested in this resource support the philosophy of the Ministry of Youth Affairs' document Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, which encourages positive action rather than focusing on problems.

Although the learning experiences present a teaching sequence, teachers are not expected to implement all the suggested activities or necessarily to follow the sequence suggested. Rather, they should choose the activities that suit their students. This book is designed to be a creative springboard to other ideas and a useful teaching tool. To meet the learning needs of their students, teachers may use all or parts of this book and may also use other appropriate activities. Teachers often develop their own assessment activities because they know what best meets their students' needs. However, some specific assessment activities are provided as models.

Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa

Advocates moving towards understanding young people as partners in their own development, encouraging adult mentors, setting goals and planning to achieve them, and achieving a society where young people are included as active members, view it here.

Why provide opportunities for Making Connections in the key areas of learning Mental Health, Food and Nutrition, and Sport Studies?

Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) is based on the concept of wellness or well-being. Students engage in active processes through which they become aware of the health-related choices that they make and learn to make choices that enhance their well-being. The underlying concept of hauora is central to the idea of well-being. Physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are interrelated.

Current research, such as that described by Michael Resnick in "Protective Factors, Resiliency, and Healthy Youth Development", shows that students who are able to connect to their family, friends, and other people, such as teachers, develop resilience and are able to cope with adversity more successfully than those who feel a sense of isolation. When students are in touch with their community and culture and are confident about their own identity, they can develop the resilience to keep reaching out and making connections to other people and to new ideas, even when this is challenging. Students who are resilient and make such connections are prepared to meet life's challenges, supporting others, and accepting help when necessary.

The introduction of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) signalled to teachers of health education, physical education, and aspects of home economics that they needed to plan collaboratively. When teachers plan collaboratively and their programmes support and enhance those of their colleagues, their students are more likely to receive consistent information that can enhance their learning. Teachers who work collaboratively and take a holistic approach to teaching can increase their students' motivation, understanding, and commitment and provide them with opportunities:

  • for deep learning about subjects that are relevant to the students' lives;
  • to use a range of techniques to interpret information about issues affecting people's well-being and to decide whether it is valid;
  • to use their individual and combined strengths to take action.

The Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa (2002) describes a vision of:


...a country where young people are vibrant and optimistic through being supported and encouraged to take up challenges.


Ministry of Youth Affairs, Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, page 5

The Strategy is based on a positive youth development approach and an understanding of what young people need. The approach outlined in the Strategy has six key principles, which are described on pages 16-24 of Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa. Briefly, these principles apply to the role of teachers in the following ways.

  • Youth development is shaped by the "big picture". When teachers understand young people and their needs within the bigger picture of the broad social and economic contexts and the dominant cultural values of the environment in which they grow up, the teachers can plan realistic programmes to meet young people's needs.
  • Youth development is about young people being connected. Healthy development is supported when young people have positive connections within many social environments, including family and whānau, peers, community, school, training, tertiary education, and work. Teachers can encourage their students to make these connections.
  • Youth development is based on a consistent, strengths-based approach. When teachers apply a consistent approach that builds on their students' strengths and focuses on positives rather than negatives, they can help the students to develop the range of skills they need.
  • Youth development happens through quality relationships. Teachers can develop quality relationships with young people and can help their students learn to develop quality relationships with other people.
  • Youth development is triggered when young people fully participate. Teachers can provide opportunities for young people to increase their control of what happens to them and around them through active participation and engagement.
  • Youth development needs good information. When teachers' planning is informed by sound research and assessment practices, their programmes are better able to support youth development.

Teachers who use this youth development approach will help their students to feel connected to their school and community and able to contribute to them.

Students spend much of their time in school. Feeling positive about school through building strong learning skills, developing quality relationships, and taking an active part in making decisions greatly improves their chances of doing well in their lives. Students should feel comfortable in their own identity and see that they have choices about their future.

Making Connections encourages both teachers and students to develop an awareness of the deeper health issues that face young teenagers. When they work in contexts that are meaningful and relevant to their everyday lives, students can develop skills and attitudes that increase their sense of self-worth and can make healthy choices. This book is divided into three themes: becoming resilient, making connections, and making choices. Through units of work on these themes, teachers can address many of the issues identified at levels 4, 5, and 6 of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) (on pages 20-25).


The term resilience is derived from a Latin root, resilire, meaning "to jump (or bounce) back". In this book, the concept of resilience encompasses the following ideas.

  • Resilience enables students to respond, interact, and adapt positively in the face of both expected and unexpected challenges.
  • Resilience can be considered in terms of the values, attitudes, and behaviours that affect people's ability to respond, interact, and adapt as described above.

People who are resilient and flexible can learn from adversity, building their interpersonal and stress-management skills and taking positive action when required.

Linking to Curriculum
Key concepts
Planning considerations
Learning outcomes
Possible learning experiences
References, resources, and organisations