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Source: City of Southampton

A new video from Southampton City Council offers practical advice to improve the health and wellbeing of under 5 year olds by encouraging childminders, pre-schools, nurseries, children’s centres and parents to make healthier choices and for Ofsted-registered providers to sign up for a free award programme.

The Healthy Early Years Award (HEYA) video debuted at the recent Early Years Conference – Minds Matter, in Southampton and can now be viewed online.

In Southampton, child obesity rates for 4-5 year olds are similar to the England average and addressing obesity through healthier nutrition and physical activity, and improving oral health is a priority for the city. Early years and childcare providers that have signed up to the Healthy Early Years Award provide a healthier environment for children and help families make positive choices that often extend beyond the children’s early years setting.

Southampton’s HEYA was originally developed in 2009. In 2017 the award was redesigned and piloted, to make it more accessible and practical to achieve for providers. There are six stand-alone awards at three progressive levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Settings begin with bronze awards in Healthy Eating and / or Physical Activity. Once both have been achieved, settings can, if they wish, choose to move on to Silver. At this level there are three awards to choose from: Healthy Eating, Healthy Mouth and Physical Activity. Settings who undertake and complete all three awards will have the opportunity to move on to obtain the HEYA Gold award. All awards are valid for three years and all progression steps must be taken within the 3 year period.

Information and guidance for all early years providers is available online.

Since the Healthy Early Years Award (HEYA) was revised and piloted in 2017, early years settings in Southampton–children’s centres, nurseries and childminders–have achieved a total of 53 awards. Since the autumn term 2018, 21 awards have been achieved across 16 settings, and 63 providers in total have signed up for the award.

In the past year, the following early years settings have all achieved awards towards completion of the HEYA:

Startpoint Sholing Nursery ; Startpoint Northam Pre-school; Christine Lawley (Childminder) ; Claire Warrington (Childminder) ; Sticky Fingers Pre-school (Newlands); Sticky Fingers Pre-school (Redbridge); Happy Bunnies Pre-school; Little Berries Pre-school @ Bassett; Hardmoor Early Years Centre; Little Berries Pre-school; Paintpots Nursery and Pre-school Sholing; Stacy Hutton (Little Dragons Childminding); Taplins SGH Nursery ; Toni Southwell (Over the Rainbow Childminding); Kanes Hill Pre-school; St James Nursery and Pre-school.

Overall, a total of : 15 Bronze Physical Activity Awards, 22 Bronze Healthy Eating Awards, 5 Silver Physical Activity Awards, 3 Silver Healthy Eating Awards and 8 Silver Healthy Mouth Awards have been achieved. We also have a Gold Award being piloted at present.

Parents have commented on the positive effect of the Healthy Early Years Award on their family life:

“My daughter loves fresh fruit and vegetables, and is constantly asking if things are ‘healthy’ to eat. This has had a ripple effect amongst her brother and sister who too question food choices and its health content. Her awareness and understanding of food and nutrition is amazing, along with her love for fruit and keeping healthy. This, I feel, will be a positive attitude and lifestyle she carries forward as she grows up.”

“I think the Healthy Early Year Award programme is a fantastic way to educate and inform parents and children alike on healthy eating and lifestyles.”

“I feel that since Toni (Southwell, Childminder, Over the Rainbow) has started the Healthy Early Years Award it has encouraged my son and daughter to brush their teeth without as many arguments. It has made me more aware of the importance of tooth brushing.”

Toni Southwell, Childminder, Over the Rainbow said: “I like the flexibility of the awards, in that you can stop at each level if you wanted and have the opportunity to progress at a later date if you wanted.

“The HEYA team have been very supportive and have given positive feedback, as well as helping to change bits to meet the criteria.

“The impact of the awards within my setting have been huge we have more children eating fruit and vegetables, they are drinking more water as opposed to juice at home and parents have stopped sending it in. children have a better balanced diet and portion sizes have changed to the recommended sizes meaning a reduction in waste within the setting.”

“Children have an interest in brushing their teeth which has transferred to home as some parents were struggling with tooth brushing.”

Cllr Darren Paffey, Cabinet Member for Aspiration, Children and Lifelong Learning, said:

“Early years providers and the council are working together on two initiatives–Feed the Future and Healthy Early Years Award–that aim to improve children’s health and nutrition in these settings across the city. We want to help ensure that children are well fed, healthy, and that they are able to make good choices about their food, and are ready to learn.

“With Feed the Future we’re aiming to tackle food poverty and ensure that the food children are offered is as healthy as possible. Both schemes reduce malnutrition, giving children the best start in life.”

Cllr Shields, Cabinet Member for Safer and Healthier Communities, said:

“If you’re a childminder, pre-school, nursery or children’s centre manager in Southampton, have a look at our new video to learn more about this easy-to-implement health award programme for the children in your care. The Healthy Early Years Award gives you a progressive and flexible path that helps children learn how to eat healthier, exercise and care for their teeth. If you’re a parent, you might even find yourself following your child’s advice!”

MIL OSI United Kingdom