Creating a healthy environment in early childhood education services is key to helping children learn, play safely and reach their full potential.
Camperdown Kindergarten’s mantra, ‘healthy children learn better’, inspires continued progress in the Achievement Program, with its recent attainment of the Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs health priority area. This recognition joins the list of awards for best-practice approaches to Healthy Eating and Oral Health, Sun Protection and Mental Health and Wellbeing.
The kindergarten implemented an innovative health strategy to enhance health outcomes and better inform its community about the negative health impacts of smoking, which claims approximately 4,400 Victorian lives each year¹. This brought about powerful policy changes and new practices at the centre as well as engaging the community.
Initiatives included ‘Fresh Air Day’, a fun-filled event celebrating the pleasure of breathing clean air. The day aimed to embed the important health message that ‘we feel best when we breathe fresh air’. The day involved a smelling station which was filled with scented products, breathing mediation games and a focus on meaningful relationships.
Momentum continued with educational posters, brochures and newsletters placed around the kindergarten on the negative health impacts of smoking, a review of policies was undertaken in consultation with stakeholders and a confidential support service was established for staff to provide support and tailored care if required.
Head of the Achievement Program, Tope Adepoyibi, said in light of the recent media spotlight on the targeting of children by the vaping industry, engaging children imaginatively for the creation of smoke-free environments at an early age is even more important.
“Camperdown Kindergarten is a wonderful example of how a health area like Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs, which can have negative connotations, can be flipped to result in a positive and educational experience,” said Ms Adepoyibi.
The kindergarten’s trailblazer approach to creating a healthy environment has been implemented with the support the South West Healthcare Health Promotion Officer, Alexandra Bell, who says shaping positive behaviour change is a real joy of the job.
“Our role is not to judge or police behaviours of parents, staff and the wider community but to educate and encourage positive health. It’s been fantastic for me as a Health Promoter to work with a setting that is incredibly motivated and passionate to develop creative ways of meeting the Achievement Program measures,” said Ms Bell.
The wonderful work doesn’t stop here, Camperdown Kindergarten will continue its health journey by developing an action plan to guide its healthy changes addressing the Safe Environments and Physical Activity and Movement health priority areas.
Camperdown Kindergarten teacher Bronwyn O'Keefe and Member of Polwarth Richard Riordan.
Health Promoter Alexandra Bell, Camperdown Kindergarten teacher Bronwyn O'Keefe, Head of the Achievement Program Tope Adepoyibi and Member of Polwarth Richard Riordan.
¹ Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019-2023.