A small country kindergarten is having a big health impact


 

In regional Victoria, Heywood Kindergarten is quietly achieving big health and wellbeing milestones in the Achievement Program.

 

A team of three at the south-west-based centre have been the committed and driving force behind the kindergarten’s success in achieving all Health Priority Areas and receiving Victorian Government recognition as a result.  

 

Glenelg Shire Council children’s services manager, Janine Johnstone, said receiving recognition was a testament to the tireless efforts of staff as well as ongoing collaboration with families.

 

“Over the past four years educators at Heywood Kindergarten have been working hard to create a healthy and supportive environment for our region’s youngest. I praise the efforts of our staff and the successful partnerships they have formed with families and the wider Heywood community,” says Ms Johnstone.  

 

Heywood Kindergarten has been recognised for meeting best-practice targets in the Healthy Priority Areas of Healthy Eating and Oral Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Physical Activity and Movement, Sun Protection, Tobacco Control and most recently, Safe Environments.

 

The kindergarten is passionate about having positive learning outcomes and setting children and adults up with healthy habits for life, which was a key motivator for joining the Achievement Program.

 

Some of the kindergarten’s notable achievements include:

  • Role modelling, by making it an everyday occurrence to teach children appropriate behaviours and healthy habits. For example, wearing clothing to suit the weather, such as hats and sunscreen in summer, and coats in winter.
  • An Indigenous bush tucker garden, providing a hands-on experience for children to learn about native edible plant species, expanding their knowledge and awareness of food.
  • Promoting emotional wellbeing, whereby each morning children would pin on the ‘feelings board’ their emotional state, i.e. happy, sad, angry, nervous or shy. Children were encouraged to reflect and understand how these feelings affected them. This activity helped to improve emotional resilience and build an environment of support and respect.
  • Daily reading time, which is a popular activity that helps educate children about healthy messages. A favourite story was ‘Fill my Bucket’, which was read each term.
  • Lunch and learn sessions, where children and teachers would eat lunch together and have ‘healthy eating’ discussions to encourage children to think positively about foods like fruit and vegetables.

Heywood Kindergarten remains committed to evolving its health and wellbeing initiatives.

 

Ms Olivia Coates, Ms Corinna Bell, Ms Rachelle DeHaas

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