Swings + Roundabouts Winter 2022

20-year anniversary The Tohu Manawa Ora | Healthy Heart Award programme helps early learning services create an environment that encourages healthy eating and physical activity, which in turn helps tamariki develop healthy habits for life. Since 2002, nutrition advisors from the Heart Foundation located all over New Zealand have supported early learning services to create healthy environments for under-fives and their whānau. 20 years of commitment to heart health The Heart Foundation is celebrating 20 years of the Tohu Manawa Ora | Healthy Heart Award programme, during which time it has been committed to improving nutrition and increasing the physical activity of our tamariki. Last year alone, the Heart Foundation worked with over 600 early learning services achieving nearly 200 awards, reaching almost 40,000 tamariki. By attaining the award, services also positively influence the knowledge, attitudes and practices of educators at early learning services, together with the parents and whānau of the preschoolers. As seen over the past 20 years, there have been great strides forward in offering healthy menu options and establishing lunchbox guidelines. With some children receiving up to 75% of their daily intake in care, it is paramount the food provided is not only nutritious but tasty too. A foundation for life With Ministry of Health funding, the Tohu Manawa Ora | Healthy Heart Award programme provides guidance and structure to promote lifelong heart health. The award levels, Rito, Whānau, and PāHarakeke, reflect a continuous, sustainable and empowering journey of growth and development from a firm foundation, with the hope of inspiring change and sparking enthusiasm for heart-healthy environments. The awards are completed online as the programme has developed into a fully functional and modern commitment to founding a healthy nutrition and physical activity environment. Nutrition advisors from the Heart Foundation support and monitor the early learning services’ progress through a state-of-the-art online portal whereby both can communicate regularly about their practices. The hope is to foster a flourishing nutrition and physical activity environment, the impact of which extends beyond the immediate setting and into the wider community. Tamariki, young people and their whānau have always been a priority area for the Heart Foundation because parents and caregivers provide some of the strongest influences on the food choices and physical activity patterns of young people. Healthy eating and physical activity are inextricably linked and the Heart Foundation encourages thinking about them as two sides of the same coin – together they have the potential to prevent health issues in the future and achieve long-term heart health. There is increasing evidence that healthy food choices and behaviour patterns adopted during childhood are maintained into and throughout adulthood. The programme’s aim is to formally recognise early learning services that promote healthy eating and physical activity so that tamariki have a better chance at developing these attitudes for themselves and maintaining them throughout their lives. Learning about healthy eating and having opportunities for physical activity has been shown to help children select healthy food and make lifestyle changes as they understand the importance in relation to their long-term heart health and wellbeing. An added benefit is that children can positively influence their whānau on improved eating patterns and a healthy lifestyle. For all of us, but particularly children who are growing up in an activitypoor and food-rich environment, the opportunity to eat high-fat and high-sugar food is never too far away. What the Heart Foundation has achieved over the last 20 years, and will continue to do for the foreseeable future, is provide an alternative that resonates with a contemporary learning environment and gives tamariki the best possible chance of living healthy lives. Sign up now or learn more about taking your first steps on an award journey by visiting hha.heartfoundation.org.nz/register. June 2022 { 36 }