Schools, Pre Schools and Early Learning Centres

Last week, local primary school students, staff, parents and interested community members came together at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre to learn and share stories/experiences from VicHealth 's Walk to School month. The aim was to learn from what we've done, seen and heard throughout the month and build ideas to make Walk to School month every month! The group came up with some great ideas to keep the momentum going, including;- Continuing to use drop off points- Keep doing group walks- Build better bike and scooter (road) safety skills- Implement a junior-senior school walking buddy system- Develop posters and visual prompts for use year around- Improve infrastructure; build better paths and safer road crossings Big thanks to George Street Primary School, Hamilton, Tarrington Lutheran School, Hamilton Gray St Primary School and Hamilton North Primary School for attending and sharing your stories. Thanks also to Cafe Gray for our fresh morning tea. Just because the official Walk to School month draws to a close today, there's no stopping now! Contact Ebony on 5551 8475 to find out more or to get involved.      

Southern Grampians families walk, ride and scoot towards healthy habits   The Southern Grampians region will join VicHealth in its mission to get kids walking, riding and scooting to school as part of the health promotion foundation’s annual Walk to School program.  Council and partners will work with local primary schools to deliver a range of activities to support more families to walk, ride or scoot to school this October and beyond thanks to $15,000 funding from VicHealth. Schools will be supported to host internal Walk to School Launch events, run walking competitions, develop safe walking routes and install footpath decals and/or ‘drop and walk point’ signage. Southern Grampians Mayor Mary-Ann Brown said the Walk to School program is a free, easy and fun way for kids to get active and build healthy habits for life, “Our council is delighted to support Walk to School again to encourage more kids to be active,” Ms Brown said. “Our kids are healthier and happier when they’re active every day, and walking to school is a great way to get their activity in”. “We want to make walking to school easy and attractive for families, by supporting the program as well as installation of path decals and drop and walk points”.  Acting VicHealth CEO Dr Lyn Roberts AO said each year the Walk to School program continues to grow with more and more schools taking part with fantastic results. “Walking, riding or scooting to and from school every day is an easy way to make physical activity part of kids’ daily life which is why our Walk to School program is so important,” Dr Roberts said. “Helping our kids to get active is so important for their health and wellbeing, which is why it’s great to have the support of Southern Grampians to get more local kids walking, riding or scooting to school.” Local schools who take part in Walk to School will be in the running to win some fantastic local prizes, and statewide prizes including a footy clinic at their school hosted by an AFL or AFLW player.   For more information visit the Walk to School website on www.walktoschool.vic.gov.au ,or for information around local activities contact Ebony Jenkins at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net.       

There's a new Healthy Recipe Share box in operation at HILAC Occasional Childcare! Following healthy eating activities at the childcare to acknowledge National Diabetes Week in June, parents were supplied with a copy of all the recipes cooked for and with the children throughout the week, and loved it! This sparked the idea of housing a permanent recipe share box, where educators and parents alike can share their favourite healthy recipes and access those of others at any time.  The recipe box is divided into three categories, showcasing healthy recipes for lunchboxes, toddlers and the whole family. Whilst it's early days for the box, it's getting plenty of use so far and filling with a variety of healthy recipes quickly!                                              What is your childcare, school, community group, club or workplace doing to promote healthy choices? Let us know about it! Email or call Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or 5551 8475. 

Tarrington Lutheran School Parents and Friends (P & F) group have this term began a fundraiser of a different kind, warming the tummies of students with a healthy hearty meal in the process.   The school P&F spoke at the end of term 1 about providing soup lunches for students during the winter months after a passionate parent initially shared the idea. This term, the group have begun making a batch of healthy soup available for free to students every Thursday, all students need to do is BYO soup mug/cup! To build in a fundraising component, toasties are also made available with the soups for a cost of $2. So far the committee have done a fantastic job making a number of different types of soups for children to try, including pumpkin and chicken and vegetable.                             The student response to the initiative has been great, with Thursday lunchtimes quickly becoming a weekly favourite. The P & F plan to continue the initiative into term 3 with possibly different options in term 4.    Could your school, workplace or community group follow Tarrington Lutheran School’s lead and facilitate a shared healthy meal, whist fundraising in the process? To share your story or idea, or access support, contact Ebony Jenkins at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net

Balmoral grade Prep to year 12 students enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables every Friday on their school! Every week, the school spends $30 on purchasing fresh, seasonal produce from Peaches fruit market in Horsham. By purchasing a variety of fruits and vegetables and using what's in season, that $30 goes a long way, providing morning tea for all 118 students! Four students are selected each week to work with the well-being officer and school chaplain to cut up and prepare the fruit/vegetable platters for the rest of the school, building their skills in food preparation and knowledge around different produce.             School well-being officer Jo McCure says the Fresh Fruit Friday ritual is very popular and something the students look forward to throughout the week, "the kids from grade prep right up to year 12 all love it and the platters are generally empty by lunch time!". A great way to celebrate the end of the school week.  It's known that bringing students together around healthy food improves their attitude towards healthy options and can even influence food preferences. Well-done Balmoral Community College for dedicating weekly resource to make this happen.    What is your school, community group, club or workplace doing to promote healthy choices? Let us know about it! Email or call Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or 5551 8475. 

Southern Grampians kids have made getting to school a walk in the park, with more than 1100 localstudents walking, riding and scooting an impressive 9600 kilometres as part of VicHealth’s Walk to Schoolprogram.The students were among thousands of Victorian students who collectively travelled more than 1.7 millionkilometres – the equivalent of over 41,000 marathons –in last term’s program. In Southern Grampians, Penshurst Primary School took out the prize for highest participation, with animpressive 85% of students getting themselves to school every day.           Mayor Mary-Ann Brown said the walk to school initiative teaches kids that getting places actively can befun and helps them develop healthy habits.“Council is pleased to again have supported the Walk to School program and we hope to see new habits continue as school starts again this year. Congratulations to all students for their efforts in last year’s official Walk to School program, and most importantly to those schools whom have introduced new ongoing strategies to increase walking,” said Ms Brown. Following the success of this annual program, plans are afoot to make active transport a new ‘normal’ within our district. A community forum held in Hamilton in late November has spurred local working groups to investigate a number of ‘walking’ school buses, permanent safe drop off zones, and volunteer drives to assist with supervision while children are walking to school. “The response has been very encouraging and we can’t wait to start seeing more children using their own steam to get themselves to and fro school on a regular basis,” said GenR8 Change working group member, Ebony Jenkins. If you’d like more information or to get involved with one of the local working groups, please contact Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or on 5551 8475.

Hamilton North Primary School now have a permanent sign erected at their school drop off point!                                               For the past two years during VicHealth’s Walk to School month, a number of families have been dropping children off at and around this point to enable them to walk the remainder of the way to school together. This trend naturally grew and since the Walk to School month of 2017, a number of motivated students have continued walking from this point of a morning. This year, thanks to more locally implemented support from VicHealth, the school has added permanent signage to the point, encouraging families to utilise it and walk the remaining 800m to school all year around. The drop off point is an action aligning with the local GenR8 Change initiative, in making the active choice easier for children. Use of a drop off point doesn’t just allow kids more quality social time with peers, but can increase safety as a cohort walk together, and provide opportunity for those students whom live a distance from school to get a small walk in before the bell. Hamilton North highly encourage use of the drop off point at parent/carer discretion. The school is not responsible for students until they enter the school grounds in Andrews St. Parents/carers are responsible for their children walking or riding to school from any point.     Is your school interested in displaying permanent drop off point signage? Some support is available. Please contact Ebony for queries at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net , or on (03) 5551 8475.

Schools in every township of the Southern Grampians region are participating in VicHealth's Walk to School Month! Fifteen schools are currently engaging with the program, using the month as a catalyst for more sustained increases in student walking.  Even our most rural and remote schools are participating by adapting the program to suit their individual school community. From encouraging students to walk a number of laps of the school prior to the bell, to having the school bus drop students off away school gates, and implementing a drop off point to encourage students to walk the remainder of the way to school together, there are heaps of strategies our schools have been trialing! St Mary's Primary School Hamilton 3300 are breaking down barriers by encouraging students to meet at a point close to school each morning and walk the remainder of the way together! And look at the turn out!                                              Meanwhile, students at Branxholme Wallacedale Community School get out and complete as many laps of the school oval as they can between being dropped at school and entering class. Branxholme students feature here with the GenR8 Change/Walk to School branded umbrellas that are allocated to schools as program prizes, making sure habits continue - rain hail or shine!                                              Three of our regional schools, Penshurst Primary, Cavendish Primary and Dunkeld Consolidated, have also been lucky enough to participate in some extra Walking activities with the Bendigo Community Bank Dunkeld Branch, one of the key sponsors of the 2018 program.                                            Walk to School month is certainly in full swing and we look forward to watching these newly formed habits grow over the remainder of the 2018 school year and beyond!       Key contact for more information or queries: Ebony Jenkins, ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net, (03) 5551 8475

Every Wednesday is Nude Food Wednesday at Good Shepherd Junior School.   Students are encouraged to replace packaged and processed lunchbox snacks with healthier alternatives, and ditch the plastic in the process. Whilst this is encouraged every day of the week, on a Wednesday there is a weekly audit, led by the senior students to track progress. Grade 5 and 6 students start their Wednesdays by visiting every classroom and assisting the younger students to examine their lunchboxes and count as a class the total amount of processed/packaged foods to find out the total number of wrappers brought to school that day. There’s a weekly trophy awarded at assembly to the class whom each week has the lowest average number of wrappers per student.         Deputy Principal Julian Gollasch says, “...It’s all about raising awareness around both healthy eating and waste management. Some of the kids now have zero wrappers in their lunchbox every day. We’ve found some parents have purchased lunchbox containers for the purpose of our Nude Food Wednesdays, and the students are now using them daily. I can see the difference in the classroom when a child consumes less processed snack food”.                                          As well as class wrapper totals being published in the school newsletter to keep families up to date with progress, there’s also an added incentive for the individual, as each time they present a ‘nude’ lunchbox they’re given a ticket into a raffle drawn at the end of term where there’s some groovy lunchbox containers or a similar kind of prize to give away. Good Shepherd have found the weekly wrapper count to be a great reminder for both parents and students in endeavouring to build a lunchbox full of healthy, waste wise fuel! In addition to overhauling their lunchboxes, students are also making ‘wax wraps’ (re-usable alternatives to glad wrap) that they will sell within the school community initially before looking for opportunities to do so in the broader community to raise funds. Stay tuned! Great work Good Shepherd!                                                                      Has your school, club, workplace or organisation made a change or implemented a new strategy to make the healthier choice the easier one? Let us know about it! Contact Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or 03 5551 8475 to share your story or for any more information around Nude Food or GenR8 Change.