Four early years settings have been successful in a new health awards programme delivered by Southampton City Council and Solent NHS Trust. The Healthy Early Years Awards
recognise settings that have made changes to their practice and environment that promote healthy eating, physical activity and good oral health.
The programme, now reaching the end of its first year, is one part of ongoing work in the city to curb the increase in the number of children that are overweight or obese. Southampton City Council is working alongside its partners to create health promoting environments in the city, through settings such as early years, schools, businesses, parks and open spaces.
The four settings that were recognised with Bronze Awards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity are:
• Stephens Pre-school
• Rosegarth Nursery
• Ladybirds Porchester Road
• Over The Rainbow Childminding
The awards were given out at the Southampton Early Years Conference which took place at Oasis Academy this month (please see image).
One in five year R pupils in Southampton are overweight or obese. In year six this rises to one in three pupils. Being a healthy weight is key to a child’s wellbeing. Taking action on this is key as children that are a healthy weight are more likely to do well at school, experience good mental, emotional and social wellbeing and avoid tooth decay.
Cllr Dave Shields, Cabinet Member for Health & Community Safety at Southampton City Council, said:
“It’s great to see the Healthy Early Years Awards are having a positive impact and that nurseries and preschools are beginning to embrace healthy eating and physical activity. Tackling childhood obesity is a local priority, not just for the council but for our partners in the NHS, schools, early year’s providers and society as a whole. We need all sections of the community to contribute towards establishing healthy attitudes towards food and physical activity as early as possible.”
Zoe Marler-Hausen from Ladybird Porchester Road, said:
“Working with the council and Solent NHS Trust on the Healthy Early Years Awards was a really rewarding experience and we are delighted to be recognised with an award for both Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. Since embarking on the award we have noticed a huge improvement in the quality of children's lunch boxes and the parents have fully come on board in providing healthy and varied foods. In addition as a team we are more aware of portion sizes, nutritional value and variation in foods we provide our children for snack and supporting parents."
Denise Mattin, Clinical Director for Special Care Dental Services at Solent NHS Trust, said:
"Solent NHS Trust Oral Health Promotion Team having been delivering an oral health programme to targeted early years settings in Southampton for many years.
"We are delighted to be given this new opportunity to work in partnership with SCC to develop and launch the Healthy Early Years Award which incorporates a Healthy Mouth component. Many factors associated with poor oral health are common to other health problems such as obesity so by working together we can highlight the link of healthy eating and healthy teeth to staff and the wider community.
"Many children spend a significant amount of time in an early years setting so it is important to offer early interventions which can prevent dental decay. Children are learning how to brush their teeth under supervision in the setting and at home from a young age and parents are encouraged to take their child to a dentist as early as possible to deliver key messages, acclimatise the child to the environment and make the experience a positive one. We hope this excellent example of multiagency working will really make a difference in reducing the number of young children in Southampton experiencing pain and discomfort from tooth decay."