Linton Primary School has been an active member of the Achievement Program since 2019. Its efforts have resulted in recognition for six of the seven health areas – most recently for the Healthy Eating and Oral Health area.
The school is located 30 kilometres southwest of Ballarat and has 26 students. It’s been working hard over the last 12 months to engage its local takeaway shop – which is their canteen provider – and whole school community to provide healthier eating options for students.
Acting principal Jenny Dyer said joining the Achievement Program seemed like a natural fit with the school’s values.
“We want students to lead healthy and happy lives beyond school. We want them to carry that message home and to their communities because the world and future belongs to them,” she said.
Mrs Dyer said most of the Achievement Program’s areas had been straightforward to implement.
“The SunSmart area was easy and our school already does more than three hours a week of physical activity – which is above the recommended amount,” she said.
In terms of the Healthy Eating and Oral Health area, the school approached its local takeaway shop asking if they could join forces.
“The owner of Linton’s takeaway shop is a grandparent of one of our students, and we have a lovely relationship with her. She now runs our canteen and together we ensured there was a healthy food and drink focus.
“That side was easy, however parents were slightly concerned that we might become lunchbox police. So with a little encouragement and by sending out some information about giving children healthy food and drink choices, we slowly changed attitudes.”
Senior classroom teacher Erin Mitchell said students had openly embraced the school’s new focus on healthy food.
“When I first started students had a limited understanding about what healthiness looks like. We started encouraging students to think about themselves holistically and making healthy decisions for themselves,” she said.
“Real change came when we implemented the ‘paddock-to-plate’ concept with a focus on making food fun. Afterwards students were asking me when fruit time was because they needed to ‘fuel up’. We’d spent so much time talking about how healthier food helps the brain and how that empowers us to learn more easily – I think that was the biggest hook for our students.”
The school vegetable garden now includes more plants and fruit trees, including bush tucker plants, peas, lettuce and carrots which students can eat during break times. In 2022 the school will be undergoing a major internal upgrade which will see a new kitchen being made to enable students to learn cooking skills.
We also receive fresh fruit from Foodbank Victoria which provides students with a healthy breakfast every Wednesday.
Ballarat Community Health health promotion officer Tameaka Lakey said working with Linton Primary School was part of a larger goal to encourage more regional and rural schools to join the Achievement Program.
“Our aim is to work closely with small rural schools to help them overcome barriers and challenges when completing the Achievement Program,” she said.
“Doing active travel by walking or cycling can be challenging for remote schools if families live far away. The partnership with the takeaway shop has also enabled the shop to be included as the drop-off and pick-up point as part of the school’s walk-to-school initiative,” she said.
Linton Primary School is continuing its Achievement Program journey, by working towards Mental Health and Wellbeing recognition next.
Learn more about the Achievement Program and find out how your school can join here.