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Promote better eating choices in childhood centres

ARC and Public Health promote better eating choices in childhood centres

The Fakatouato Language School, Onehunga has been awarded first place for the annual ‘Pacific Island Pre-school Gardening for Healthy Living’ programme.

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and Public Health Promotion have been helping south Auckland communities create vegetable and fruit gardens in early childhood centres. The aim of the programme is primarily to provide better eating choices for Pacific Islanders. Steve Benham, from ARC’s Regional Botanic Gardens who has been central to running theory and practical workshops with other staff says the programme is of great benefit to everyone involved. “We take the parents and teachers through from soil preparation to seed selection, sowing, watering and harvesting. Everyone wins through more nutritious food choices, outdoor activity and exercise. We also cover tools, health and safety and composting. Plus there is a general increase in health awareness and the community increasingly focuses around the schools, the kids and healthy living!” Mr Benham said.

“The kids at Fakatouato have labeled their veggies - each row is named after a child’s grandparents and the children and teachers create a story about their grandparents’ lives which is read to the kids as bedtime stories. This helps to enhance their culture and family ties,” he said. Mr Benham added that produce from the school gardens has become a part of the children’s lunchtime diets and is also circulated into the communities. Central to the programme has been Telusila Mausia Jordan, Early Childhood Development Coordinator. She says that the vegetable gardens have also become useful to focus educational activities such as literacy, numeracy and sciences. Keen gardeners Homelo and Mele Poese who have a granddaughter at Fakatouato Language School accepted the first prize on behalf of the school at the prize giving ceremony on Friday night. Second prize went to Akoteu Falemasiva Early Childhood Centre. In the gardens have been planted a wide variety of food, from citrus fruit to strawberries, from potatoes and lettuces to pak choi. Four workshops were held in the first year of the gardening programme in September 2001, 3 workshops this year, and the next round of workshops is planned for August / September 2003. The programme has involved Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Tokelauan, and Cook Island communities. Each annual round of the programme has involved workshops, demonstrations and evaluation, and a prize-giving ceremony. Any Early Childhood Centre interested in being involved can contact either Kasalanaita Puniani at Public Health or Telusila Mausia Jordan, Early Childhood Development Co-ordinator (contacts below). For more information please call:

Steve Benham, Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens 267 1457 x202, or Telusila Mausia Jordan, Early Childhood Development Co-ordinator 306 1827 / 377 8072, or Kasalanaita Puniani, Nutrition Advisor, Public Health 261 1620 x5192

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