Looking for some new, simple ways to keep kids occupied at home? The Irish Bread Bakers Association (IBBA) and Bord Bia are behind Healthy Heroes, one of Ireland’s most popular nutrition and exercise programmes for primary schools. Now, with schools closed for the foreseeable future, they have made a range of activities and information available online for use at home. And the really great news is that they are simple and easy to adapt for children of all ages, including plenty of activities where older children could mentor their younger brothers or sisters.
Now in its seventh year, Healthy Heroes was created by teachers and behaviour change experts, with the support of Dr Mary McCreery, one of Ireland’s leading consultant nutritionists and dieticians. The popular lunchtime programme aims to help children to change their eating and fitness habits for the better. It follows a peer teaching model where older children (usually 5th and 6th classes) mentor younger pupils on nutrition and the importance of being active.
Over 900 primary schools across the country had signed up to participate in this year’s programme, which typically runs during the spring and summer terms. “We hope parents who are looking for simple, fun ways to occupy their children will find the materials helpful at this time. As the programme is designed to be led by children under the guidance of their teachers, there are activities for mums and dads to do with their kids as well as options for the children to follow themselves.” says Michael Jacob, IBBA.
Home-working, home-schooling and self-isolating means the home is the centre of our world at the moment, says Dr Elizabeth Finnegan, Healthy Eating Executive with Bord Bia. “In this new ‘at-home-hub’, many parents face the added challenge of finding a balance of working from home, sharing childcare as well as keeping healthy eating habits and physical activity levels on track. In its new form, the Healthy Heroes at home programme aims to help children learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyles in a fun and interactive way that will help parents shape good habits for the future.”