ECE Services

Healthy eating and physical activity - a fun way to learn and grow!

The St John’s Progressive childcare community have worked hard to achieve their new Healthy Heart Award – with plenty of fun along the way.

The childcare centre in Whangarei recently celebrated receiving their Whānau Healthy Heart Award from the Heart Foundation.

“Gaining this award has been a fun and productive experience for everyone involved,” says team leader Joanne Mitchell. “Teachers, children and parents have all been on this learning journey together.”

To meet the Healthy Heart guidelines the centre decided to review their menu with the help of a nutritionist.

“We are proud that children have nutritious foods to fuel their day. They now happily try a variety of diverse foods.”

The Healthy Heart Award is about all aspects of a centre’s environment, and this got teachers thinking about how healthy eating and physical activity could be incorporated into other areas of their programme planning.

The centre garden provided one such opportunity, with children gaining a variety of healthy eating and physical activity skills though involvement in the construction, preparation and planting.

“The tamariki have experienced first-hand what it takes to grow vegetables and through the harvesting of kai, have developed ideas of self-sufficiency. They also understand kai comes from places other than the supermarket,” says Joanne.

The teachers at St John’s childcare understand that healthy eating and physical activity education don’t need to be taught in isolation. They both fit naturally into the curriculum, and can support children’s interests and exploration.

During their Healthy Heart Award journey, the centre had a focus on the living world, which expanded into the children becoming increasingly interested in the human body and its functions. The teachers took this opportunity to guide and support the development of the children’s ideas about the positive impact physical activity has on their health.

“By the end of the focus, many of the children were not only able to identify different organs, but were aware of their important role in the body too.”

Putting the benefits of physical activity into practice, and to share them with whānau, the teachers organised a mini Olympic Games. Children had fun and gained confidence through participating in different sporting events, role-modelled and encouraged by their enthusiastic teachers.


“We are committed to continuing to support children’s developing ideas of physical activity and healthy eating, which we strongly believe will lay the foundations for healthy habits – today and in the future.”