A celebration is being held to mark the work of several Swindon schools in encouraging pupils to lead healthy lifestyles.
Dozens of schools in the town have taken part in the Healthy Schools Plus pilot programme, which aims to build upon the Healthy Schools programme and asks schools to identify three key health priorities relevant to their area.
So far 18 Swindon schools have achieved Healthy Plus recognition and a further 17 will receive their award from Swindon Mayor Cllr Ray Ballman at a special event at Swindon Academy on Tuesday (31 January).
A number of schools addressed ‘healthy weight’ by running cooking classes for their students focusing on the preparation of healthy meals. This resulted in children trying new foods, cooking at home and parents requesting recipes so they can cook with their children at home.
Schools have also reported that children as young as seven have learned how to cook simple healthy meals and are enthusiastic about getting involved in cooking.
Many schools also addressed physical activity and worked with children to ensure full participation in sport and games by providing PE kit for those children without it and by setting up activity sessions at nearby secondary schools.
Other schools focussed on the importance of breakfast while hand washing was another simple project that was covered in science lessons and followed up by actively encouraging and monitoring younger children.
Two secondary schools have completed the ASSIST project, which trains pupils on the benefits of being smoke free, giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence to speak to their peer group about the benefits of not smoking.
Tuesday’s celebration will also mark the achievements of three schools who have achieved Food for Life awards.
The Food for Life partnership is a lottery funded initiative that encourages schools to work towards their bronze, silver and gold awards. The awards are criteria based and to achieve the awards schools need to show that food education is a key part of their curriculum.
Schools who achieve the award have grown their own food and run cooking courses, while children and staff enjoy a positive lunch time experience.
Food sustainability should also be understood and practiced by caterers, including procurement of local produce where possible and using quality ingredients including some fair trade and organic produce.
Haydonleigh Primary School achieved the ‘silver’ award, while South Marston Primary and The Ridgeway School have reached the ‘bronze’ Food for Life standard.
Cllr David Renard, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted that so many of our schools have placed a real emphasis on health education and next week’s celebration is recognition of all the hard work that is going on in those schools.
“I would like to congratulate every school that is involved in the Healthy Schools Plus pilot and the three schools who achieved the Food for Life standards.”