The Ministry of Health is reporting that the Jamaica Moves in Schools initiative has been well received by 33 schools across the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and St. Catherine.
Members of the Ministry’s health promotion team across the parishes have been working closely with schools to promote the ‘Jamaica Moves’ programme, aimed at influencing students and teachers to partake in healthy lifestyle practices, in order to reduce the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The initiative was introduced as a pilot at 18 high schools, 12 primary schools, 2 primary and junior high schools and a special needs school last year.
Meanwhile, the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, implemented Phase 1 of the capacity-building residential camp for high schools.
Fifty-seven students and 14 teachers were trained as ‘Jamaica Moves’ ambassadors.
The two-day camp, which took place from November 23 to 25, 2018, focused on the three key areas of the Jamaica Moves programme – healthy eating, physical activity and age-appropriate health checks.
The participants were exposed to presentations aimed at sensitising them about some of the major NCDs, such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack and hypertension.
Additionally, the teachers and students were educated about the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, and are now empowered to develop good health practices.
Phase two of the capacity-building residential camp for high schools is scheduled for April 2019 and the one-day camp for primary schools is slated for March 2019.
Director of Health Promotion and Education in the Ministry of Health, Takese Foga, told JIS News in a recent interview that the initiative seeks to promote healthy eating at an early age.
“The aim of the camps is to have a number of students and teachers who appreciate and understand areas of healthy eating and physical activity promote the importance of NCD prevention,” she said.
“For children of primary-school age, we want them to be practising the habit of healthy eating and physical activity and also being able to share with their peers. The aim is to empower the children and teachers with some key messages and help them to encourage children to practise healthy lifestyle behaviours,” Ms. Foga said.
The 2017 Health and Lifestyle Survey revealed that 82 per cent of Jamaicans were engaged in low levels of physical activity; 16 per cent engaged in moderate activity, and two per cent in high-level activity.
Ms. Foga noted that the initiative is very important as data show there have been increased levels of childhood obesity.
“It is very important that at this age, children understand or they begin to practise healthy lifestyle habits, such as the reduction of sugar in their beverages, drinking water more, and the different healthy eating tips that we give them. If they start doing that now, in conjunction with the physical activity, then there is a much greater chance that the risk for obesity will be significantly less,” she pointed out.