This report is compiled by Miss Young, who led the highly successful project from start to finish.
Our Chairman’s Challenge began back in October 2013, during a PSHE lesson. We were having circle time and talking about ‘ourselves, lifestyles and family time’. Some excellent discussions were created and some important health issues and worries were raised. The conversation led to the topic of health. It was interesting to see that some basic needs and understanding was missing regarding health, wellbeing and healthy lifestyle choices. It was evident that children, and some families, were unaware of how to be healthy, what foods to eat, what a healthy meal looked like and different ways to get healthy. We decided as a class that we needed to do something positive to change the attitude and awareness of a healthy lifestyle.
A small meeting was held with some children and key questions were raised. We created a questionnaire and asked 2 children from each class (10 classes in total) these questions and recorded their response. 4 key areas were highlighted – food choices, being active, amount of water/drink, bedtime routines and rest – And so our challenge began – We decided we were going to encourage, support and help ALL our children and families to make ‘one small change to a happier, healthier future’.
We decided to enter a competition held by Lancashire County Council, entering the ‘Family Involvement Category’ as we wanted to do something positive for our 283 children and 215 families that would change their attitude and awareness towards food, and help and encourage them to understand how food can change their life and recognise how easy it was to lead a healthier lifestyle.
We launched our challenge with a whole school assembly on 19th December 2013 and invited parents and the community. It focused on healthy food choices and was led by the Fun Food Company.
This assembly demonstrated how easy, and cheap, it was to cook a healthy meal from scratch, comparing it to the cost of a microwave meal or ready meal. We had 2 teams, consisting of children and teachers, which competed against the clock to create a mouthwatering meal from scratch using completely fresh, healthy ingredients. Children came up to see, smell and taste the food being cooked and then a vote was made for their favourite meal. The response, support and positivity towards the challenge was phenomenal. Thank you!
After the Christmas break we introduced the challenge to the children in the first assembly back. The focus of the assembly was for the children to help a boxer make healthier lifestyle choices to help her compete in a competition. The children helped to identify what we had to do and how we were going to do it!
The challenge ran throughout the spring term where we wanted to involve the children, teachers, family and the whole Duke Street community. The children came up with an idea for families to make a pledge to change one small thing (whether this be drinking water, cooking a meal from scratch, making better healthier food choices or being more active) towards a healthier lifestyle. We sent out 215 family pledge forms and received 187, which is just fantastic and more than we could have wished for! We had a huge Pledge-o-Meter displayed for everyone to see and updated it 3 times a week
As a school we decided to make a pledge too. We wanted to improve the quality of our packed lunches so decided to introduce healthy lunch cads where children could get it stamped if they made a healthy choice. Every Tuesday was NO Junk Tuesday where children received a sticker if they had no junk in their lunch. The children loved it and instantly got behind us and began taking ownership for their lunch and began trying new foods. It even started to rub off on the hot dinner children too. The cook, Mrs Robinson, had to order more fruit, salad and veg to keep up with demands.
Our challenge ‘one small change for happier, healthier future’ has been more successful than we could have ever hoped for. The overall response from children and families has been amazing. As a school we have seen a substantial difference in the food choices made by children and the awareness, attitude and willingness to try new foods is exceptional. We have seen an improvement in behavior, attitude, learning and general wellbeing and health. By making children aware of the food around them and involving them in making a healthy choice, we have educated them to think about the food that they eat, improving their attitude and appreciation towards food in a positive way.
Not only has this challenge made a difference to the lives, health and wellbeing of our children, it has impacted on the lives and happiness of our families and brought them together in unimaginable ways. Family time is now more active, meal times are fun and creative and children are becoming more involved and taking charge of some of the food choices and eating habits. In letters received and information collected in a task forum parents are excited and proud to share positive experiences, noticeable differences and changes seen since starting their pledge, and school pledge, back in January.
In April we had to submit a case study of what we did to Lancashire County Council for them to decided if we had done enough to make a difference. We were shortlisted out of all the schools across Lancashire and invited to County Hall in Preston to present our campaign. Miss Young, Mrs Ridley and Mrs Anderson took 6 children to County Hall (Ben Doherty, Eleanor Bennett, Cameron Smythies, Jake Moore, Evie Wilson-Catterall and Abby McKeown), where they met the Chairman of Lancashire County Council and the High Sherriff of Preston. The children presented a 15 minute presentation to a panel of judges, (including the above) and live audience.
We competed against 5 other schools on the night as far afield as Silverdale. After each school had presented on the evening they deliberated and announced the awards in reverse order…..With us winning GOLD, £1000 and an engraved plaque for the school. It was the 10th anniversary of the challenge.
The chairman is coming into school in the next June to present us with the cheque and the engraved plaque.
Well done and THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in making a difference at Duke Street.