Ballarat Grammar supports wellbeing with the Healthy Schools Achievement Program

Tuesday 21 November, 2023

Ballarat Grammar School is supporting student wellbeing wholistically. By using the Healthy Schools Achievement Program, a free health and wellbeing framework aligned to the World Health Organization's Health Promoting Schools model, they’ve created a healthier environment for learning and working for their 1800 students.


Sandra Warwick, Deputy Head of the Senior School, has supported the improvements.


A healthy fridge full of food


“We’ve taken broad long-term approach to wellbeing and use the Achievement Program framework to do this. We’ve looked at policies and procedures around vaping, sexual health, sun protection and healthy eating. We’ve also had a lot of student-led involvement and engagement with our local community,” Mrs Warwick said.


“To adopt the Achievement Program as our overarching wellbeing framework, we have a strong connection with our health promoters Tameaka Lakey and Alexandra Bell from Ballarat Community Health,” she said.


For the ‘Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs’ area, Ballarat Grammar has gained Victorian Government recognition through the Achievement Program. In response to the rising vaping rates among young people in regional areas, the school is now also redeveloping policies and procedures to include vaping/e-cigarette use, with support from new Achievement Program resources. The school is conscious of taking a health approach to this issue and supports students with educational sessions.


Regarding the ‘Sexual Health and Wellbeing’ area of the Achievement Program, Ballarat Grammar has an inclusive LGBTIQA+ Pride Group that mentors other schools to establish their own groups. The Grammar Pride Group has also provided advice to Headspace Ballarat regarding content for their Gender Diversity School Health Program.


For the ‘Sun Protection’ area of the Achievement Program, Ballarat Grammar became a SunSmart school from Foundation all the way to Year 12.


To progress towards the ‘Healthy Eating and Oral Health’ benchmark of the Achievement Program, the school completely refreshed their approach to running their canteen. The school reviewed their food environments including the in-house canteen, vending machines and the boarding house.


Fruit topped Greek Yoghurt in the fridge


The in-house canteen has been redeveloped to improve food and drink options for students and staff. It now features a front of house area, allowing students to select from open fridges and display cabinets. Students and staff also now enjoy a range of hot meals as well as salads, rolls and sushi along with gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian food/drink options.


The range of drink options has also expanded, but all soft drinks, sports drinks with sugar and other sugary drinks have been removed. The school has also removed all soft drinks and other sugary drinks from their vending machines.


To continue to move towards the ‘Healthy Eating and Oral Health’ benchmark, Ballarat Grammar is using the Achievement Program and Healthy Eating Advisory Service’s new free initiative called ‘Vic Kids Eat Well’. To boost healthy and delicious options for kids, Vic Kids Eat Well offers schools and other community organisations simple steps to refresh their food and drink environments.


“We joined Vic Kids Eat Well to provide nutritious meals to students and to add variety,” Mrs Warwick said.


Ladies holding Vic Kids Eat Well rewards cards


The 1800 students at Ballarat Grammar now enjoy new healthier menu items like breakfast frittata with roasted pumpkin, fetta, and eggs; vegetarian salads and rolls with roasted vegetables and chickpeas, fresh sushi, frozen yoghurt and fresh Greek yoghurt. The school’s drink range has also expanded to include low sugar options and sparkling mineral water.


“Our health promoters Tameaka and Alexandra sat down with our canteen working group to review our menu and helped us select simple Vic Kids Eat Well improvements to adopt. We met a number of times to look at different options that could be suitable under the Vic Kids Eat Well program,” Mrs Warwick said.


“The number of students, and even staff, purchasing meals from our canteen has increased significantly since we made improvements through Vic Kids Eat Well. This talks to the appetite we have for delicious and colourful meals and snacks that make us feel good,” said Mrs Warwick.


“Keeping in regular contact with our health promoters at Ballarat Community Health has been an enormous support for me. Through the Achievement Program we have a broad long-term approach to wellbeing; to refresh our canteen with simple tips, Vic Kids Eat Well slotted in perfectly,” she said.


Vic Kids Eat Well is supported by the Victorian Government and is delivered by Cancer Council Victoria’s Achievement Program, in partnership with Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Advisory Service.