Healthy Heroes Cloontagh NS, Killashee, Co Longford. Photographed are students Evie McCausland John James O'Reilly with teacher Leonie Beirne Picture: Shelley Corcoran
Cloontagh National School in Cloontamore, Killashee has been named Healthy Heroes School of the Month for January 2022, thanks to the students’ efforts in promoting healthy eating.
It is among hundreds of primary schools across the island of Ireland that are participating in the Healthy Heroes initiative from the Irish Bread Bakers’ Association and Bord Bia, which aims to educate children on nutrition and how to improve their lunchtime habits.
Designed by teachers and behaviour change experts with the support of Dr Mary McCreery, one of Ireland’s foremost consultant nutritionists and dieticians, the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club gives children the opportunity to foster valuable leadership, teamwork and communication skills, all while learning to change their eating habits for the better.
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Now running in its eighth year, the successful programme allows both pupils and teachers to learn all about lunchtime nutrition, helping to boost children’s activity levels, all whilst having lots of fun in a non-competitive environment.
The programme involves a novel peer learning approach with sixth class students mentoring younger students on the importance of nutrition and being active.
This provides the younger children with important role models, while the older children have an opportunity to foster valuable leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.
Kay Smyth and Leonie Beirne, Teachers at Cloontagh N.S. say, “We are proud of our little school and all of the years and classes participating in this initiative. Our sixth-class pupils are the captains of the exercises and games, which they find great joy in participating in and leading daily.
The children are proud to eating healthier and the eagerness with which the children approach the Healthy Heroes structured activities is fantastic.”
Ailbhe Byrne who oversees the programme on behalf of the IBBA says: “It is encouraging to see the positive feedback from Cloontagh N.S.
"We’re delighted to see that Healthy Heroes is helping to make a real difference. School lunchtime is an important opportunity to develop positive attitudes towards food choices and nutrition.
"Incorporating healthy eating habits from a young age and in a playful environment is a vital stepping stone to their future food habits.”
For more information on how schools can get involved in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club, visit Irishbread.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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