Management and Staff from Pre Schools across Clare this week attended the Healthy Ireland Pre-School Award Ceremony in Athlone Institute of Technology to receive their Healthy Ireland Award.
The award recognises Pre-School services who participated in the HSE’s Healthy Ireland Pre-School Programme – Smart Start run by the National Childhood Network (NCN). This is the first award of its kind for the pre-school sector, acknowledging the role and influence the pre-school setting has in promoting children’s health.
The Healthy Ireland Pre-School Programme is built upon the Government’s Healthy Ireland strategic framework and was developed by the Department of Health Promotion and Improvement in the HSE’s Health and Wellbeing Division.
The focus of the programme is to build the capacity of staff in the pre-school sector, to encourage the adoption of positive health behaviours in children from as early an age as possible.
The Healthy Ireland Pre-School Programme is specifically designed for pre-school children aged between 3-5 years and encompasses all aspects of a healthy lifestyle: nutrition and healthy eating, oral health, physical activity, emotional well-being and literacy as well as health and safety. To date, the programme has been delivered to over 500 pre-school services and continues to reach a further 5% of total pre-schools in the country each year.
Ms Emer Smyth, Head of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE Dublin North East, said “The Healthy Ireland Pre-School award has been very positively received by parents and pre-school providers. We know how important early intervention is in ensuring that our children develop healthy, well-balanced lifestyles. We know lifelong behaviours are established early in life, so our work with the pre-school sector is vitally important”.
Ms Denise McCormilla, CEO, NCN said, “The pre-school sector has a very important role to play in promoting our children’s health and wellbeing. This programme provides them with the know-how and resources to be able to do so very effectively. The programme delivers year on year. Once staff are trained they can continue to deliver each year to new cohorts of children.”
This programme is open to all pre-school providers; private or community, sessional or full day care, regardless of size or location. Registered childminders are also welcome to participate in the training.
A pre-school childcare provider can retain the Healthy Ireland Pre-School Award for three years upon completing an annual assessment process. A Database of successful Pre-School Services is available to view on www.NCN.ie.
For more information about the programme, parents and pre-school providers should visit www.ncn.ie or telephone the HSE on 046 – 9076401or NCN on 047 – 72469.