Teacher Toni Shanks set herself a personal physical challenge that’s grown into a broad community movement, at the same time as raising money for Healthy Futures.
The #Kaukau100 involves climbing to the site of Wellington’s main television transmitter - what Wellington City Council describes as the most visible high point in the Wellington landscape.
Toni aims to climb Mt Kaukau 100 times in 2018, each time donating $1 to Healthy Futures. For any family member she manages to drag up there with her, she’s donating an extra dollar.
“Like all New Year’s resolutions, I knew life would get in the way”, she said. “I thought to give it purpose I would give to a Charitable Trust. Healthy Futures is a perfect fit”.
“The idea matched some of its objectives. It’s getting out, it’s being active, it’s promoting a healthy lifestyle. So I thought I’d give $1 every time I did it, but that didn’t seem like a lot of money, so I hoped I could get another four people or so, so it would be $500 and I thought, that would be nice and good for the Trust”.
Toni created a Kaukau100 2018 group on Facebook.
By mid-February there were more than 70 people in the group which has now increased to 87 so has grown in awareness and size. "I’ve done 35 climbs and loving it"!
She hopes all will donate to Healthy Futures.
“For a goal you need to tell somebody and write it down in order to do it and Facebook makes you accountable”, she said.
It’s called #Kaukau100 because that was Toni’s goal but she says it’s been great to see people set their own objectives. Some are doing #Kaukau75, #Kaukau50 or #Kaukau20.
“50 is obviously once a week, which is a good goal. Whether it’s 50 times or 20 times, each time it’s another dollar for a good cause”, she said.
Last year Toni ran a “Kids Kaukau Challenge” as a fundraiser for Khandallah School.
“I was up the hill a lot, doing health and safety. I loved the hill, I loved the way it made me feel”, she said.
“I am a goal setter. My drivers for my own family are that I’m trying to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and eat healthily. My children aren’t naturally athletic, so it’s a push to get them involved sports-wise.”
“Even if the kids aren’t doing it, they’re seeing their parents doing it. It’s role modelling”, she said.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, except for one friend who posted “number two, want to spew”, Toni laughed.
“They climb the hill, they feel healthy and they hopefully then go and make healthy choices in the kitchen.”
“People are inspired by everyone’s photography. They’re getting addicted, I’d even say obsessed.”
“I’d like to start a photography competition and might approach businesses for prizes and incentives”, she said.
It was just an idea which has been embraced and now driven by a great community of people. It is so lovely seeing people connecting and re-connecting because of this challenge. I think it is helping to build a resilient healthy engaged community and it's having such a positive healthy flow on effect to families and friends.
One walker told her the whole family had scaled the hill in the rain, something they wouldn’t have done had it not been for the challenge.
Families are spending time together. Toni’s even heard of people having ‘dates’ up there.
Some are walking, some are running, others are doing it by bike.
Now that she’s created a social media movement and has something of a captive audience, Toni’s hoping that same group could be involved in things like a fundraising movie night.
She’s already thinking of organising a Kids Winter Onesie walk, with a reward at the top.
We’d like to see if this might be started in other communities, too, like at Colonial Knob in Porirua; in Tauranga climbing Mt Maunganui; or at Te Mata Peak in Hawke’s Bay.
Toni wants healthy competition, but doesn’t want anyone to get demoralised by seeing the achievements of others.
But with winter approaching she knows it’s going to get harder. “I’m stockpiling while I can!”.