Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme

The Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme is a Welsh Government led initiative, aimed at promoting the health of 0-5 year olds, their families and carers. The scheme is delivered through the childcare settings that the children attend – nurseries, playgroups and childminders. It encourages positive health behaviours in children from the very earliest age, that will continue throughout their lives. In the Vale of Glamorgan, the scheme is co- ordinated by Catherine Perry, based at Cardiff and Vale Public Health Team, and is supported by a strong partnership of organisations.

Catherine commented: ‘We know that what we do with children in their earliest years has a strong influence on their later lives. If we can encourage healthy choices from the start and make it fun, we can set children up for a healthier future. With the help of all our partners working in the Vale, and the fantastic enthusiasm of childcare workers, we can really make a difference to the lives of our children and families’

The Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme covers a range of areas, all of which are very relevant to the health of young children:

  • Nutrition and oral health
  • Physical Activity and Active Play
  • Mental and Emotional Health and Well Being
  • Environment
  • Safety
  • Hygiene
  • Workplace Health

Within each area, children can be encouraged to get involved in activities that develop their skills and help take care of their health. Staff are provided with the most up to date guidance where appropriate, and resources and information to support the health messages they are conveying. Interested in helping to get pre -schoolers healthier? Here are some ideas that are relevant to food and healthy eating:

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and shouldn’t be! To get started, you don’t even have to do any actual cooking…….challenge your child to think of a fruit / vegetable in a particular colour (eg red) then keep going ….strawberry, apple, tomato – how many can you think of? Or find pictures of these foods in a book or magazine. What shape are they? What colour? Which is the biggest and which the smallest? Then move on to think about what you could actually make with these foods. Keep it simple – its more likely to be enjoyable, and you child will be keen to do it again!

The organisation ‘Cooking Together’ offers some simple ideas for recipes and activities:

Cardiff and Vale Dietetics Team have shared some of their ‘Get Cooking’ recipes – take a look https://foodcardiff.com/blog/getcookingrecipes/

And for those interested in finding out more about healthy eating in the early years, check out the First Steps Nutrition Trust https://www.firststepsnutrition.org/ an independent public health nutrition charity that provides information and resources to support eating well from pre- conception to five years.

Again simple ideas are the best – a few seeds in a pot of compost provides a rich learning experience for a young child. Not only do they learn how plants grow, but also the importance of how to nurture a living thing, and that everyone needs to be taken care of. Checkout the Childrens Gardening Week website for some ideas. https://www.childrensgardeningweek.co.uk/fun-things-to-do/

It has never been more important to wash our hands – whatever our age. Advice is to wash them for 20 seconds – try to fill that time with something interesting for the children – singing happy birthday once in Welsh and again in English? How many fruits / vegetable can you name in 20 seconds? Marching on the spot 20 times while you wash? If there is a mirror above the sink, how many funny faces can children make while washing their hands?

keep those teeth clean! – another crucially important area for young childrens health. Regular brushing is vital, but so is avoiding all those sugar laden foods which cause so many problems. The Designed to Smile website is full of useful tips https://www.designedtosmile.org/welcome-croeso/welcome/

For general tips and advice on raising healthy children, parents and professionals can visit the Every Child Wales website http://everychildwales.co.uk/ Its full of ideas on giving your child a happy and healthy future.

This is just a selection of the kind of work covered by the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme. For further details contact Catherine Perry Catherine.perry@wales.nhs.uk