Wednesday, August 2021

Persuading children to choose healthy foods is a perennial challenge, but Proserpine State School youngsters are hitting the right mark thanks to a healthy eating partnership with leading children’s health charity Life Education Queensland.

Proserpine Primary is one of 10 schools and community groups across the country to be awarded a $1000 Yates and Life Education Growing Good Gardens Grant to inspire the next generation of budding gardeners to get outside, get their hands dirty and make healthier choices.

Their ‘Little Boots Tuckshop Garden’ entry was chosen from 743 entries for its creativity and quality design, which aims to foster healthy nutrition, physical activity, environmental learning and positive relationships among students and their community.

The school plans to use the grant to transform their existing vegetable patch into a ‘garden paradise’ teeming with herbs, vegetables and fruit trees, with the help of students, the garden club, local community members, the P and C and tuckshop volunteers.

School principal Rob Templeton said the school’s excited young gardeners were keen to turn their gardening dream into a reality.

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“School gardens are a wonderful way to use the schoolyard as a classroom, reconnect students with the natural world and the true source of their food, and teach them valuable gardening and agriculture concepts,” Mr Templeton said.

“Thanks to the grant, we’ll be able to provide students with fresh produce and healthier food options as well as provide valuable education on how food is produced, and hopefully instil a love of gardening as well.”

The new garden project is one of several healthy eating initiatives at Proserpine State School, which has also just adopted Life Education Queensland’s award-winning Healthy Eats nutrition program.

Designed to boost veg and fruit consumption in primary school aged children, the program implements a range of in-school and at-home activities across the year, including an engaging nutrition workshop for Year 5s.

Life Education Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt said Healthy Eats aimed to engage the whole school community including parents, teachers and students to influence healthier food and drink choices.

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“We launched Healthy Eats three years ago in 20 north Queensland schools, with funding from the NQPHN, and the results were amazing – 100 per cent of participating schools said Healthy Eats had made a positive difference, and 80 per cent of schools reported a significant improvement in fruit and vegetable consumption.”

The program also supports schools to implement breakfast programs, brain food breaks, intra-school competitions, recipe ideas, teacher lesson plans, support for tuckshops to become Smart Choices compliant, student leadership opportunities, and tips to get the school vegetable garden thriving with backing from Bunnings.

Find out more about the Healthy Eats program, the accreditation process and rewards available to your school via the website.

*As published in The Whitsunday Times and The Daily Mercury on 18 August 2021.

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