Tens of thousands of primary school students in Aotearoa will soon learn how to recognise the signs of a stroke and act quickly through the ASB St John in Schools programme.

The initiative has been made possible with support from the Ministry of Health, Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency, and the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, who are funding and supporting the development of new resources, which will enable St John’s community educators to teach tamariki the F.A.S.T. campaign.

The lessons will be delivered to 140,000 tamariki over two years (2021 – 2022).

Over 11,000 strokes are experienced each year according to Stroke Foundation NZ, which is pleased the key messages will be rolled out in schools.

“Delayed recognition of a stroke means delayed intervention, which can have tragic consequences. The F.A.S.T. acronym identifies around 90% of strokes, and as the majority of strokes are dependent on someone else noticing the onset, we are thrilled that St John is helping to extend the reach of our national campaign to tamariki,” says Mark Vivian, Stroke Foundation NZ CEO.

St John Head of Community Education, Jacci Tatnell says students from year one to year eight will learn how to identify the key signs of stroke, including drooping on one side, weakness in one arm, and difficulty speaking.

“Children’s minds are like sponges; they are quick learners and absorb information easily, so teaching them how to recognise the signs of a stroke, and acting fast by calling 111 for an ambulance means lives can be saved,” says Ms Tatnell.

The stroke awareness lessons also advance a strategic goal by St John of building community resilience and addressing inequities in access to healthcare.

“We know that Māori and Pasifika communities experience higher rates of stroke, so the more tamariki we reach through our basic first aid lessons in schools, the better prepared these communities are in the event of an emergency,” says Ms Tatnell.

Just last week, St John and ASB presented an ASB Super Saver Bravery Award to an eight-year-old schoolboy in the Bay of Plenty, in recognition of his courage and quick thinking when he phoned 111 for an ambulance after his grandmother suffered a stroke.

“During our preparation to roll out the F.A.S.T. message to New Zealanders we were very conscious of the social filters we develop as adults that often stop us from acting appropriately when we are faced with a situation that needs us to respond,” says Ailsa Jacobson, Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Health.

“We are delighted with the focus that the ASB St John in Schools programme has in support of our national F.A.S.T. campaign. They are key to children learning the important lessons on detecting the signs and calling for help when they suspect a stroke,” says Ms Jacobson.

Primary schools interested in the ASB St John in Schools programme can find out more and contact St John online at


Notes to editors:

About ASB St John in Schools
The ASB St John in Schools programme provides pre-school and school-aged children with the skills and confidence to take action in response to an emergency situation.

St John community educators teach young people first aid basics and knowledge to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, along with those around them.

Different skills are taught to different age groups, with four modules offered: Responding in an emergency, Keeping safe, Clued up camper, and Weaving wellbeing.

To date, more than 800,000 students have completed the ASB St John in Schools programme since 2015. With support from ACC, the common goal is to deliver to a total of one million New Zealand students (pre-school through to intermediate) by 2023.

For more information, visit

About the F.A.S.T. campaign

The F.A.S.T. campaign encourages everyone to learn the key signs of stroke and to think F.A.S.T., act fast and look out for each other by calling 111 if they suspect a stroke. Prompt action can save lives - as well as improve recovery.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. The symptoms might show on the face, arm or in speech, but it's the brain that's being damaged.

FACE Is their face drooping on one side?
ARM Is one arm weak?
SPEECH Is their speech mixed up, slurred or lost?
TAKE ACTION Call 111 immediately.

For more information visit

About ASB and St John
ASB and St John have enjoyed a strong and positive partnership since 2008. In 2016 ASB became the new sponsor of ASB St John in Schools, a first aid programme, delivered in partnership with ACC, which teaches Kiwi children life- saving skills and the confidence to take action in an emergency.

Beverley Tse
St John Communications Advisor
M 027 318 1553 | E

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