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Reading, writing, arithmetic – and health education

Aussies want more health and wellbeing lessons in primary schools to equip students for adult life

Most Australians – whether they are parents or not – believe it is important for children to learn about healthy diet, exercise and mental wellbeing at school, according to a national survey commissioned by Medibank.

The community perception survey, designed to coincide with the beginning of the school year, asked Australians questions about children’s learning experiences at school and their expectations about what children should have in their lunchbox.

Jason Gowie, Divisional General Manager of Sales and Service at Medibank, says the responses indicated that most people identified the importance of teaching about good health at a grassroots level.

“Building better health outcomes for the future is a goal we all can aim for, and getting children to think about the things they can do to be healthy is a great first step,” he says. “It is heartening that the Australian population shares a common view when it comes to opportunities for more health and wellbeing in schools.”

The responses to the survey were consistent across all the demographics of participants of the survey including age, gender, income and whether or not respondents were parents.

What’s in your lunchbox?

When it comes to a healthy school lunchbox, most respondents (85%) said they thought fruit should feature daily. Vegetables and dairy products were also expected to be included in the lunchbox daily by over 50% of respondents.

Money for spending at the cafeteria or tuckshop was something nearly half of the people surveyed felt should happen ‘occasionally’ (45%). Packaged snacks such as chips, chocolate or biscuits were also deemed ‘occasional’ foods by 44% of respondents.

Health and wellbeing projects in primary schools

The Medibank Community Fund has supported a range of health-related projects in school settings over recent years, including a partnership with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, as well as community grants to a range of school-based programs.

“It isn’t necessarily a classroom experience that is involved. The contribution of things such as kitchen garden initiatives, school breakfast clubs, extra curricula sport opportunities and raising issues like self-esteem and bullying in a relaxed setting can all help build better health and wellbeing and place children in good stead for the future,” Mr Gowie says.

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program gives primary school students hands-on experience growing and cooking their own fresh, healthy food. Stephanie Alexander says the chance to introduce the concept of healthy living to children at a young age and assist them to actively choose to eat well and live well is at the heart of the Program.

“I believe that it is by including pleasurable food education in every child’s primary years at school, that we will have the best possible chance of positively influencing his or her food habits for life,” she says.

“It is absolutely essential that students enjoy this food education; whether they are digging a hole, managing a wheelbarrow, harvesting basil, making fresh pasta, or offering a leafy ‘salad of the imagination’ to their friends. It is also important that this education integrates with the traditional curriculum objectives including literacy, numeracy, history, science etc.”

Find out more about the Medibank Community Fund at medibankcf.com.au

Get some healthy lunchbox ideas here! 

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