Corangamite Shire is spearheading health and wellbeing with all twelve early childhood services, educating over 560 children, registered with the Achievement Program.
The program, supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria, is a free health and wellbeing program open to Victorian early childhood services, schools and workplaces. Members create healthier environments by meeting a series of targets for different key health areas including Healthy Eating and Oral Health, Physical Activity, Mental Health and Wellbeing and more.
It’s no secret that healthy children learn better1. Research reveals that children who eat a healthy diet can improve their mental health2, enhance cognitive skills like concentration and memory3,4, and improve academic performance5, while being physically active builds strong bones, supports brain development and encourages independence6.
Corangamite Shire’s early childhood services are instilling healthy habits and aiming to combat current health concerns in their community. Research shows only 16.1% of females and 5.5% of males in the Shire are meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines and just 55.2% of males and 58.1% of females are meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians7.
Dedicated Achievement Program health promoters, Alexandra Bell from South West Healthcare and Laura Stevenson from Terang and Mortlake Health Service, have been providing ideas and tools to inspire and educate early childhood services. Some of the activities implemented by the services include:
- Healthy eating experiences where children have been actively engaged in growing, harvesting and eating nourishing meals.
- Promotion of local bike paths, walking trails and parks to encourage active transport and free time activities with families. The early childhood services also created active indoor and outdoor environments to inspire movement for all abilities.
- Events to educate and celebrate good health such as Fresh Air Day where children were actively engaged in breathing activities, meditation games and smelling experiences to highlight the importance of breathing fresh air.
- Celebrating health days of importance with children and their families.
- Mental wellbeing activities including sing-alongs to promote positive mental health, and a ‘feelings board’ where children share their emotional state and get to know how their peers are feeling.
- Role modelling healthy behaviours including respectful interactions, healthy lunches and appropriate dress such as hats in summer and coats in winter.
- Strengthened leadership and family commitment including regular catch ups and online community groups to share photos and stories of healthy family activities, and a review of policies and procedures to create a best-practice health promoting environment.
- Upskilling staff through professional development training such as Indigenous culture training, Be You training, Bridges out of Poverty training. This helped staff understand community needs and embed learnings into the daily curriculum.
Ms Bell and Ms Stevenson are thrilled to see all early childhood services jumping on board the health train – each developing community connections and taking advantage of the amazing services already available.
“A real joy has been the passion, commitment and innovation of the educators in making health and wellbeing a priority in their services – and not just for the children, but for themselves and the wider community,” Ms Bell and Ms Stevenson said.
The Corangamite Shire’s health and wellbeing trailblazer approach has seen the community build healthier habits, and their youngest members are now set up to improve learning outcomes, which will pave a healthy path to adulthood.
About the Achievement Program
The Achievement Program, supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria, is a health and wellbeing framework that helps workplaces, schools and early childhood services create healthy environments for working, learning and living. The program supports its members to meet a set of guiding benchmarks relevant to their organisation addressing key areas of health.
For more information, please contact Alexandra Wilson on 0418 530 750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Jacka FN, et al. Associations between diet quality and depressed mood in adolescents: results from the Australian Healthy Neighbourhoods Study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 May;44(5):435-42. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048670903571598571598
4 Bellisle, F. (2004). Effects of diet on behaviour and cognition in children. British Journal of Nutrition, 92(2), S227–S232