Home-Start volunteers from across the Newry area have attended a training session highlighting the importance of promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles for the under 5s. Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in the local community. The purpose of the training was to raise awareness of the ‘Healthy Steps for Life’ initiative developed by the Southern Investing for Health Partnership (SIHP) and to develop the volunteers’ knowledge and practical skills to encourage greater physical activity among young children.
Orlaith Moley, Project Manager with the Public Health Agency explains: “The foundations for a healthy life are heavily influenced by what happens in the first few years. This new initiative aims to encourage a range of healthy habits at a young age including the importance of physical play and movement.”
The training session was delivered by NICMA - the Childminding Association. Those attending were given play resources emphasising the importance of participation and physical play and how to increase children’s activity while at home. Home-Start’s Newry Co-ordinator, Mary Hutchinson said: “This training and the resource pack that accompanies it has been great for our volunteers. Home-Start supports parents to give their children a better start in life. Volunteers visit families in their own homes and part of their role is to encourage children’s development in the widest sense. The training and the resource pack has given them lots of ideas and activities to engage children in physical play and to encourage parents to establish healthy, active routines through play. We will also incorporate these activities and routines into our Family Group and encourage parents to continue them at home.”
Home-Start volunteer, Marion McDonald added: “The training was great with lots of creative ideas for play….there are loads of ways of using the materials with imagination and they can be used in the home as well as outdoors.” Other positive comments from volunteers who attended the training session were: “It was good to get new ideas, to see what equipment is available and to see how the equipment could be used imaginatively.”
“It was great to get the imagination working as well as enjoying the physical activities.” “Very informative and enjoyable, participation was excellent by all.” Orlaith concluded: “’Healthy Steps for Life’ is aimed at people who support pre-school children, including parents and carers, grandparents, parent and toddler groups, childminders, childcare providers, pre-school play groups and community groups.”
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