Giving Kids a Healthy Start
Healthy Start is a comprehensive, evidence-based program for increasing healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in early learning environments. This bilingual program was developed in Saskatchewan by a group of partners led by the Réseau Santé en français de la Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Network for Health Services in French).
Healthy Start consists of an online training and resources for early years educators and parents. We also work directly with childcare centres and pre-k programs to offer in-person training and other professional development opportunities.
Healthy Start began in 2012 with core funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and other funders including the Government of Saskatchewan’s Community Initiatives Fund. The program continues to be funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.
Since 2012, over 400 early learning and childcare centres and numerous partners have joined the Healthy Start movement. The program is used across Saskatchewan—as far south as Estevan and as far north as Fond-du-Lac! The program also operates in New Brunswick as Healthy Start for Active Kids, led by Physical Literacy NB.
The initiative was first envisioned by a coalition of health, university and community partners that came together in 2006 to promote early years health in Saskatchewan. A pilot program was launched in 2011 which demonstrated success and led to the creation of a province wide program. Healthy Start worked with an extensive evaluation team comprised of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and l’Université de Moncton who supported evidence-based research for the development of the program.
Cultural and Linguistic Adaptations
To reach even more children in Saskatchewan, cultural adaptations were made to the Healthy Start program. For Indigenous communities, Healthy Start put their training content and resources under a holistic lens and made changes so it aligned with Indigenous cultures in Saskatchewan. A series of Indigenous activity cards were also developed, in collaboration with elders, based on traditional activities and storytelling. In addition, the program’s language was also simplified to be more inclusive of individuals for whom English or French is an additional language, including Indigenous and new Canadian families.
Healthy Start Archives
Between 2012-2020, with main funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada Innovation Strategy’s “Achieving Health Weights in Canadian Communities”, Healthy Start created partnerships, program resources and reports. Numerous evaluation reports and research papers were also published by the Healthy Start evaluation team.
To access past resources and reports, please consult our online archive.