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Transforming young hearts and minds

Taking part in the Healthy Heart Award has made Little Oaks Alexandra a big hit with its kids and their parents. 

Central Otago four-year-old Bailey Thomas was over the moon when her early learning centre earned a Healthy Heart Award from the Heart Foundation this year.

“Bailey was so excited and spoke about it for weeks,” says mum Jo. “When I asked what it meant she said ‘It means I am eating healthy food at daycare, mum, to make me big and strong’.”

Little Oaks Alexandra has been taking part in the Healthy Heart Award since early last year and recently reached its first of three award levels.

“It's such an achievement for Little Oaks to have this award; it makes me proud to send my children to a daycare that is forward-thinking and realises the importance of healthy eating in children,” Jo says. “Instilling this awareness at an early age is fantastic.”

Like many parents, Jo gave careful thought to which early childhood education (ECE) service she’d pick for children Bailey and Sasha, aged two.

“I was very intrigued as to what was provided for the children, and asked plenty of questions about what type of foods are given to them. The emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity is a wonderful bonus.”

She says she feels extremely lucky to know her children are well looked after at Little Oaks.

Another Little Oaks mother, Pip Wilson, was also impressed by Little Oaks and its participation in the Healthy Heart Award.

“I think the Award is just fantastic for Little Oaks and all the lucky children who attend. It is a wonderful form of recognition for the centre and what all the staff do to ensure the health and welfare of our children.”

Her daughter Sophie starts school soon, but will leave Little Oaks armed with knowledge about how to take care of her heart.

“Sophie is well aware of what healthy eating entails, although she still likes a treat now and then! She likes to know the ingredients in her meals and loves to help in the kitchen now.”

Pip says Sophie has taken a keen interest in gardening at home since Little Oaks started growing its own vegetables.

“She grew carrots, peas, broccoli, lettuce and strawberries and enjoyed looking after them. She would often be found sitting in the garden eating peas! The Healthy Heart Award has contributed to this and I am happy to encourage her interests.”

Jo says the Healthy Heart Award not only affects Little Oaks families but also the wider community.

“We all start talking about it within our groups. It definitely makes you think about the foods you are offering to your children.”

The Heart Foundation recently carried out a survey on the impact our free Healthy Heart Award programme is having around New Zealand.

We found that: 

  • Nearly half of families say a healthy menu is important in their choice of ECE service
  • Two out of three families consider physical activity important in their choice of early childhood education service
  • Families from ECE services with the Award are more likely to learn about healthy eating

Find out more about the work we do with schools