Supporting rural kids to have the healthiest start in life

Supporting rural kids to have the healthiest start in life – Munch & Move Healthy Eating and Active Play Conference                                          

Four local preschools joined 45 other services in Dubbo to attend the inaugural Munch & Move Healthy Eating & Active Play Conference on Monday 23 October 2017. The Western NSW Local Health District, Health Promotion Team in partnership with Early Childhood Australia and the NSW Office of Preventive Health hosted a panel of experts from health, early childhood education and academic fields.

Broken Hill Public School Preschool, Gyndarna Preschool, Playtime Preschool and Rainbow Preschool were successful in gaining a travel scholarship to attend the conference. It was a unique professional development opportunity for those attending to learn more about implementing healthy eating and physical activity strategies in their services.

Childhood overweight and obesity continues to be a significant public health issue in Australia. Keynote speaker, Professor Anthony Okely from the University of Wollongong, highlighted some of the many factors that influence a child’s health status. Prof. Okely encouraged rural and remote early childhood education and care services  to establish a positive environment around eating healthy food and drinks, and to help young children learn to recognise when they are hungry or full.  Prof Okely also presented evidence on the benefits of children being active more often and in shorter bouts, rather than in one longer physical activity session.

Early childhood is a valuable period to learn and establish lifelong healthy practises. The state-wide Munch & Move program supports early childhood education and care services to create an environment that promotes health, and role models of positive behaviours for young children and their families.

“Embedding healthy eating and physical activity including daily fundamental movement skills into a service’s everyday program and policy documents to increase sustainability, was a take home message from the Conference,” said Ms Hayley Vaughan, Healthy Weight Coordinator, Western NSW and Far West Local Health District.

“The first Munch & Move Conference of its kind, complements the ongoing assistance we provide to trained Munch & Move services in the western and far west NSW regions,” said Ms Vaughan.

Director at Playtime Preschool, Mrs Tess Gilmour said: “We have been implementing Munch & Move for a number of years at Playtime Preschool and have found that it supports us with meeting the requirements for our Assessment & Rating, as part of the National Quality Framework”.

“Educators play a key role in the education and development of healthy behaviours of children attending our service. Being able to travel to the Conference was a great opportunity to learn the latest information around eating healthy and being active. The practical tips and resources that Teegan and I received to further support our children and their families was very valuable.”

“Our children are generally active throughout the day however intentionally teaching fundamental movement skills daily will be something we can focus on all whilst allowing the children freedom to continue their own interests.”said Mrs Gilmour.

The Conference focused on promoting the six Munch & Move key messages: to encourage and support breastfeeding; choose water as a drink; choose healthier snacks; eat more fruit and vegetables; get active each day; and turn off the screen and get active. Information on Munch & Move can be found at:

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