Two pilot projects by the LAUNCH Legends initiative, part of the LAUNCH Food platform, have been active in the Pacific island countries of Tonga and Fiji, bringing school children together around game-based education aimed at promoting healthy eating and better nutrition.
The projects are geared towards teaching young children the value of healthy eating and in particular with an emphasis on traditional meals and local ingredients. Both projects are implemented through play-based teaching through apps; with the Fiji project also incorporating virtual reality.
In Tonga, the Our Special Island programme launched in April 2018, is an educational pilot program for children in their first or second year of school. The pilot is a partnership between the Australian Government and the LAUNCH Food platform and is being delivered by game-based education application developer Millipede.
The main resource is an interactive tablet app which involves children in learning through play, as they grow and collect healthy food items to use to make traditional meals. Two Tongan characters, Kelela and Pulotu, support the player, while Maui-Kisikisi, the youngest son of the great Polynesian cultural hero Maui, helps out with the cooking. The app is supported by printed materials in the form of a board game, flashcards and worksheets.=
The second project, Beyond the Stars, is taking place in Fiji and scheduled to run until the end of 2018. Similar to the Tongan project, Beyond the Stars is designed for Fijian children albeit in their fourth year of school and is being delivered by creative technology agency S1T2.
Inspired by the stories of local Fijians, Beyond the Stars takes students on a journey to reclaim the sacred knowledge of an ancient Pacific civilisation that holds the key to restoring health and prosperity in the land. The story is told across multiple mediums, including an introductory cinematic, an immersive VR experience, a mobile application, and a graphic novel.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are posing a major health challenge in many Pacific Island countries and the projects are a means of early intervention, guiding young children towards healthier and more nutritious food options. Made possible through collaboration between private sector, development partners and local health and education authorities, the projects are proof that small island developing States can be ideal testing grounds for innovative and transformative partnerships.
Feature Photo: Rachael Imam, LAUNCH