Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School in Eltham is now the first Primary School in Nillumbik to complete the Coordinate stage of the Achievement Program. The Achievement Program is the Victorian Government’s health promotion program for schools, early childhood services and workplaces. In reaching this milestone, the school is leading the way supporting their school community to enjoy healthier lives.

Leading the charge is Julie Myers, parent of two children at the school and member of the school’s ‘Healthy Community Group.’ The Healthy Community Group instigated the school’s participation in the Achievement Program and has since worked closely with Principal, Chris Ray, in moving through the program.

Mr Ray commended the Healthy Community Group who were the starting point for several initiatives at the school. “The group initiated our Healthy Eating Policy. We also had students submit their ideas for ‘our healthy superhero’ which stimulated the creation of ‘Captain Carrot’ which we use to help promote healthy options” explained Mr Ray.

“We began a fortnightly lunchtime garden club run by parent volunteers, and we have introduced ‘Student Healthy Community Leaders’ who speak each week at assembly and write for our weekly newsletter.”

The school’s Student Healthy Community Leaders (pictured with Captain Carrot) initiated ‘Wheels Wednesdays’ to promote active transport to school on Wednesdays. This has since evolved into ‘WOW Wednesdays’ (Walk or Wheels). The school has also promoted involvement in activities like the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon and Premier’s Active April.

Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School is currently also running another VicHealth Walk to School Month throughout October. Mr Ray said “We have seen an increase in the number of children using active transport means to travel to school as a result.”

For the school, completing the Coordinate stage of the Achievement Program has involved having an active health and wellbeing committee, reviewing current health and wellbeing practices, engaging with the school community and developing a health promotion charter.

Achievement Program Manager Amy Timoshanko congratulated the school on reaching this important milestone “This first phase of the Achievement Program is all about making sure there are strong foundations for ongoing healthy changes at the school. These are some fantastic building blocks towards creating an environment where kids can learn, play and reach their full potential.”

Mr Ray said “being a part of the Achievement Program has ensured that we keep the health of our school community on the agenda. Whilst it’s always important, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of school life and take the health of our community for granted.”

In progressing through for the Achievement Program, Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School in Eltham joins over 560 schools and early childhood services across Victoria who are using the framework to support health and wellbeing through learning, policies, creating safe and healthy physical and social environments and developing community links and partnerships.

healthAbility’s Coordinator Health Promotion, Karyn Knight congratulated Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School on their commitment to creating a healthy learning environment.

Ms Knight said “Preventable diseases are affecting the lives of many in our community. Schools are a great vehicle for promoting wellbeing among children and families locally. As the local community health service, we are here to help schools to participate in the Achievement Program.”

If you would like to find out more about healthAbility’s health promotion support, email healthyschools@healthability.org.au or phone 9430 9100.

To find out more about the Achievement Program, visit the website http://www.achievementprogram.health.vic.gov.au or phone 1300 721 682.

Further details about the health issues affecting our community are available in the Nillumbik Shire Council’s health and wellbeing profile, available online at http://www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/People-and-family/Health/Health-and-Wellbeing