Pre-school staff can play a vital role in promoting children’s health and well-being daily, helping to ensure children develop healthy lifestyle choices in their early years. Research and experience highlights the effective role children have in influencing the adoption of these healthy lifestyle choices within the home using positive pester power. This can result in the whole family adopting healthy lifestyle choices in relation to oral health, healthy eating, physical activity, health & safety and emotional well-being/literacy.
Reports and research are continuing to highlight Irelands increasing health problems, exacerbated by high levels of obesity and low levels of fitness. The focus needs to be on prevention, which will only be achieved by using effective ways of influencing the adoption of healthy lifestyles. It is with this in mind, that the HSE continues to support and fund the implementation of the Healthy Ireland Smart Start Programme nationwide.
Delivery of programmes will take place shortly in the following counties Dublin ( Swords and Monkstown), Galway, Kildare ( Athy and Celbridge), Kilkenny, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary North and South, Wicklow and Wexford.
Participating services receive a learner manual, information resources for staff and parents as well as training and guidance in developing a health promoting pre-school setting. In recognition of their commitment to promoting children’s health and well-being, services are offered an opportunity to showcase their health promotion practices through the Healthy Ireland award system.
Feedback from providers, staff and parents on the programme has been very positive. Comments include the following from providers:
“As a result of our training on the Smart Start programme, we feel we have increased our promotion on health with both the children and their parents. We have always had and continue to have great awareness of health promotion through our entire daily routine but doing this programme has broadened our awareness.”
“We got so much out of the emotional well-being/literacy. The books which we received went down an absolute treat. The children were aware of feeling happy or sad so introducing all the other emotions was fantastic”
Parents have said “The exercise showing how much sugar is in various products was particularly eye opening and resonated well with her. She is very aware of the importance of vegetables and fruit for growing and staying healthy”
“If someone offers him fizzy drinks he says no because they learned at pre-school that they are full of sugar”.
“Since he started preschool he has become more open to trying new things. He would eat fruit and veg previously but it would have to be given in a certain way. Now he will eat fruit from the bowl and we talk about why certain food/drinks are good for you. He has allergies since birth and as a result has had a lot of digestive issues mainly constipation which at times is severe. Since he started this programme, We have had massive improvements in this area because he eats such a varied diet for us. We had been trying this at home but once he did in school he was convinced. It’s hard teaching some things at home but if a teacher & friends do it then it’s a lot different. This made a huge difference & improvement for us and especially him”
Services validated as Healthy Ireland Pre-schools in 2018 will be announced shortly. These services will be added to the HSE/NCN existing register of Healthy Ireland Pre-school services.
For further information about the programme please contact NCN on 047 72469 or visit our website www.ncn.ie
To book a place on the programme, please see link below