The Clan Carthy Primary School in Kingston was abuzz with activities on Tuesday, May 7, as parents, teachers and students took advantage of the host of information available at the institution’s health and wellness exposition.
The school’s Deanery Road premises was transformed into an interactive information hub, which featured displays from more than 15 organisations involved in providing services on healthy lifestyles, in keeping with theme for the exposition: ‘Get Educated…Eat Healthy…Live Wealthy’.
Booths were set up by the Ministry of Education’s Guidance and Counselling Unit; the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); Sagicor Mobile; the Ministry of Health’s HIV/STI outreach unit; St. Joseph Fitness; first aid volunteers, among others.
Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Fenton Ferguson, who addressed the opening of the event, said educating young children and community members about healthy lifestyle habits is of critical importance.
“This is the kind of support that the Ministry needs in providing health promotion and education information for a healthy Jamaica,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson said the theme of the event is most appropriate as it complements the Ministry’s drive to ensure that all schools eventually become health promoting institutions.
“As such, they become a place where all members of the school community work together to provide students with integrated and positive experiences and a structure, which promotes and protects their health,” Dr. Ferguson noted.
The elements of the health promoting school are: a healthy school policy; a healthy physical and social environment; a focus on individual health skills and competencies; and linkages with the community and health services.
The Minister said that it is well documented that healthy children have better educational outcomes, adding that a positive physical and social environment will improve the way they respond to others and interact with their peers, resulting in a reduction of violence, better problem solving skills and improved social interaction.
Principal of Clan Carthy Primary, Sheldon Richards, told JIS News that the decision was taken to focus on healthy living for this year staging of the health and wellness exposition.
“We recognise from a survey at our school that approximately 25 per cent of our students were not coming to school with breakfast and for a number of them, the health and nutritional practises at home were very poor. So this exposition is to let all the stakeholders know that health is extremely important,” he said.
Mr. Richards noted that healthy habits are best nurtured at this level to create a positive culture that can be passed on from generation to generation.
“We don’t want our children to wait until they are 60 and are going to the hospital to recognise the importance of good health, we want them to know from now,” he stressed.
He informed that health and nutrition is also part of the grade five curriculum and as such, the initiative was conceptualised by those teachers, with assistance from the wider school community.
Mr. Richards noted that it was essential also to focus on members of the wider community as it was recognised that they had needs as it relates to healthy lifestyles.
“The community was brought in because we recognise that a lot of persons in the community need medical attention and so we were able to advocate for Sagicor to be involved and they are offering assistance to those so desire at a significantly reduced cost,” he said.
He commended all the stakeholders who participated in the exposition.
Contact: Chris Patterson