Healthy lifestyles are centre of the curriculum – Article from The Irish Times

This article is from the Irish Times Tue, Sep 13, 2016 by Ciarán D’Arcy:

“Schools are embracing the challenge of making children aware of the need to look after their own health”

Junior and Senior Infants of Beaumont Girls National School, Cork city, enjoy their sports day. Photograph:  Clare Keogh/ Provision

Case Study : “St Patrick’s Classical School is, of course, renowned for its exploits on the GAA field and with multiple All-Ireland winning hero Colm O’Rourke as principal, it was always in a prime position to capitalise on initiatives that promote good health.

Along with holding healthy eating days, implementing a mental health care team and championing peer-led substance misuse programmes among students, the school has also installed a new canteen so children can enjoy fresh, nutritional food.

“The whole idea was to take on a new initiative every year, something to build the healthy life of the school,” says health promotion officer Mary O’Brien, who maintains that her job has been made “easy” by O’Rourke’s enthusiastic co-operation.

“We got a new demonstration-style kitchen because we didn’t have home economics in the school.

“We wanted to bring in an initiative to teach them to cook, so several staff members were trained up and we now offer a cook-it programme to our first years.

Health Promoting Schools: how they do it

After a school expresses interest in the programme, members of the Health Promoting School team meet the principal and key staff who are willing to drive the process.

Staff at the school receive a presentation on the programme and what is required, and a Health Promoting School team and co-ordinator are appointed.

Priorities are then set and addressed as part of an action plan. Pending a review from Health Promoting School, a flag may then be awarded and planning can start for the second phase of the multi-stage programme.

Active School Flag: Leaflets are sent to primary and post-primary schools every August asking if they want to join the programme, and interested schools can register for inclusion on the Department of Education website.

Upon registration they receive self-evaluation documents for PE classes, general physical activity and partnerships.

When this process is completed, success criteria are set for each of these areas.

When a school feels it has satisfied each of these criteria, it receives a visit from an Active School Flag accreditor which usually takes between 1½ to two hours, after which the flag may be awarded depending on the school’s performance.

link to full article here