Warrnambool and Koroit’s Early Childhood Service, the Honey Pot, is setting a sweet example by becoming the first early childhood service in the Victorian Western District to achieve every health priority area of the Healthy Early Childhood Services Achievement Program.
The Honey Pot has been recognised by the Victorian Government for completing all six health areas including healthy eating and oral health, sun protection, mental health and wellbeing, physical activity and movement, safe environments, and tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
The Honey Pot signed up to the Achievement Program in 2016 after attending professional development training provided by South West Healthcare (SWH) about the benefits of a whole-of-organisation approach to health. SWH’s health promotion team then supported the Honey Pot as it worked its way through the six health priority areas.
“We’re so proud the Honey Pot has made health and wellbeing a priority at both its centres,’ said SWH health promotion officer Alexandra Bell. ‘The Honey Pot is leading the way in relation to health and wellbeing and is setting an example for other early childhood services in our region and across the state.’
‘We know this is an important age for children to learn lifelong habits so working through the Achievement Program gave us a great educational resource to help promote healthy messages not only to our children, but also families and staff. We also liked that it didn’t focus solely on healthy eating and that there were six health areas to work through that focussed on a person’s overall health including their physical, emotional, social and mental wellbeing,’ explained Honey Pot centre director Rebecca Perry.
‘At the Honey Pot, we like to think we were already a health promoting service, but once we started looking at the Achievement Program we realised there was so much more we could do to promote the overall health and wellbeing of our children, staff and service as a whole,’ Rebecca says.
The Birthday Box was a major change that occurred at the Honey Pot’s two kinders as a result of participating in the Achievement Program. No longer does the Honey Pot make and serve birthday cakes to celebrate children’s birthdays. Instead, there’s a Birthday Box from which the birthday boy or girl chooses a present after all the children sing Happy Birthday. Implemented at the start of this year, the initiative has had a great response amongst families and has been received positively by the children and staff.
The Honey Pot has also successfully embedded an Acknowledgement of Country after joining the Narragunnawali program, which provided tips and resources on how to meet the Achievement Program targets for Safe Environments. ‘Our staff and children know our Acknowledgement of Country and it’s embedded into our daily routine, with the children reciting it at group-time before lunch every day.
The Honey Pot also made significant changes to its centre menus, with support from the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS), after learning more about the specific nutritional requirements for children. There are more fresh vegetables on afternoon platters and in lunches and when menu planning, the amount of dairy, fruit and vegetables being served to the children is carefully considered, daily and throughout the week, using the FoodChecker service provided by HEAS.
‘We’re sharing our knowledge with the children about healthy eating and we’re finding they’re sharing it with their family at home. Being part of the Achievement Program has had a positive change on the Honey Pot service as a whole. Not only are we seeing changes within our program, policies and procedures but we are seeing positive changes in the children and staff in terms of their attitude about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.