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Healthy Harold... St Mary’s School pupils Lola Gray (9) and William Templeton, (9), build a positive relationship with Harold the Giraffe and educator Pip Tisdall.

Margaret Box is walking the walk as well as talking the talk when it comes to making healthy choices.

The Life Education Trust Heartland Otago Southland chairwoman is walking a virtual marathon in a bid to raise funds for Harold the giraffe, a puppet who visits schools to reinforce good lifestyle habits among pupils.

She encouraged people to join Harold’s team at the Queenstown Marathon, Half-marathon and 10km on November 21.

However, the trust would also hold a virtual marathon event to reach more people.

“We wanted to involve as many people as possible and not many people run marathons,” Mrs Box said.

She and her partner aimed to complete the virtual marathon in daily 2km or 3km increments.

“I’m walking, not running.”

Breaking down the distance in this way would allow families and children to set their own pace.

“Keeping fit and being healthy is part of our programme.”

be a fundraiser for the trust, which relied on grants and donations to meet 70% of its running costs.

Participants could get friends and family members to sponsor them to complete the distance, she said.

The economic fallout from Covid-19 meant fundraising was more important than ever.

“[We] rely less on grants .. grants funders are finding it a bit hard to fund us.”

Harold reached 250,000 pupils each year.

“They all know Harold. Keep him going on the road!”

Last year in the Heartland Otago Southland zone, Harold reached 8100 pupils.

Trust educator Pip Tisdall accompanied Harold on his visits to schools throughout this zone.

“They love it, even the year eights,” Mrs Tisdall said.

“They build a very positive relationship with us.

“It’s just part of being a kid in New Zealand.”

Healthy Harold encouraged children to make positive choices in their lives, she said.