Early childhood services are known to focus on children’s health and wellbeing, and Aurora Early Education (Aurora) has taken this to the next level by becoming the first early childhood centre in Knox (Rowville) to be recognised by the Victorian Government for completing all six Health Priority Areas in the Healthy Early Childhood Services Achievement Program.
The Achievement Program is an evidence-based framework based on the World Health Organisation’s ‘Health Promoting School’ model to create healthy environments where people work, learn and play.
With the support of EACH, Aurora joined the Achievement Program in 2013 and has since met best-practice targets for all six of the Program’s health areas: Healthy Eating and Oral Health, Physical Activity, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Sun Protection, Safe Environments, and Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs.
“The Healthy Achievement Program has helped us bring our vision to life. Without breaking it down using the Achievement Program’s portal, we would not have been able to successfully define our goals and strive for advancement with such precision and intent. It is great knowing we are able to continuously reflect on and improve the health and wellbeing of our children, families and educators,” said Kate, Centre Manager.
Kate, Centre Manager with the centre’s recognition certificate.
At EACH, we were inspired by Aurora’s commitment and worked with them to implement new initiatives to help children, staff, and families establish healthier habits.
Initiatives also include:
- the Aboriginal Small Grants Project – to create a more culturally inclusive and safe environment for all children and families attending the service. Aurora has further committed to creating a real sense of belonging and connectedness for Indigenous families by creating a Reconciliation Action Plan.
- Smiles 4 Miles program – an award program that recognises the implementation of healthy eating and oral health policies, engaging families about the importance of oral health, and educating children and families on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages – Drink Well, Eat Well and Clean well. Aurora has had its menu assessed and approved by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service and meets the menu planning guidelines for Long Day Care.
The Centre receives its Smiles 4 Miles in 2020.
The whole-of-service approach utilised in the Program also highlighted how vital staff wellbeing is.
“One positive behaviour we observed during a very unexpected world pandemic was the level of commitment and dedication from staff around each other’s wellbeing. When in full lockdown, we recognised that our staff’s ability to exercise would be hindered significantly. Aurora staff really stepped up by creating the physical activity plan and putting fun and interactive exercises on videos to share solely with other Aurora staff”, said Kate.
The service remains committed to maintaining health and wellbeing as a priority and will continue to draw on the Achievement Program’s health and wellbeing resources and support into the future.
For more information on this initiative or how your service can improve the health and wellbeing of students, staff and families, please contact Catherine Delaney, Health Promotion Officer on (03) 9757 6278 or via Catherine.email@example.com.