Healthy Start wouldn’t be possible without the tireless effort, dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership offered by early years directors, educators, and cooks. As such, in this feature we would like to recognize some of the great work going on at one of our proud Healthy Start centres – Tisdale Tiny Tornadoes Daycare.
Since completing the Healthy Start training last January, staff at Tiny Tornadoes have been energized and motivated to keep their kids moving and eating healthier. Tiny Tornadoes has made leaps and bounds, demonstrating their strong commitment to healthy children. When it comes to food, not only has Tiny Tornadoes revamped their menu to more closely reflect guidelines from the Canada Food Guide, but they have started a weekly event dubbed “Cooking with the Kids” where they find inspiration from various Food Flair (LEAP BC) recipes. For example, they recently created their very own fruit pizzas (featured in the March Healthy Start Sampler) with great success; the kids loved both helping out with food preparation as well as trying out their very own creations.
While Tiny Tornadoes draws inspiration from Healthy Start resources, they have gone beyond the book pages and found creative ways to spice up food time. Every week, Tiny Tornadoes selects a different cultural theme, encouraging the children to explore new foods. During a recent ‘aboriginal week’, for example, children got to try their hand at preparing baked bannock and salmon burgers (LEAP Food Flair, pp. 148 & 176).
To support physical activity, Tiny Tornadoes has taken initiative, appointing one staff every day to be in charge of coming up with a new activity or fun way to keep the children moving. But what happens when it’s raining outside, or what about long Canadian winters? No problem! Tiny Tornadoes has created an indoor space in their daycare dedicated to keeping kids active at any time of the year. With a quick glance at their ‘active space’, one can easily spot hula hoops, floor hockey and bowling equipment, a parachute, balls, and much more! But fancy equipment isn’t a necessity. The children have really enjoyed taking part in even the simplest of games, such as freeze dance (LEAP HOP, pp. 34-35), as well as making their very own play equipment out of coat hangers and knee high stockings (LEAP HOP, pp. 118 & 145).
In Tisdale, the energy has been contagious, going well beyond the walls of the Tiny Tornadoes daycare centre. For the past month and a half, Tiny Tornadoes has been getting together with two other Healthy Start-trained daycare centres on a weekly basis to partake in a collaborative program they call “Move to the Music”. Not only is “Move to the Music” a great way to get the children together and moving, staff are enthusiastic about getting involved as well, modelling and motivating the children to keep moving. To top off this great partnership between daycares, the centres all joined in for a friendly physical activity community challenge; coming home with the ‘Golden Shoe Award’ was none other than the Tornadoes. So what’s next? The Tiny Tornadoes are currently looking at developing a weekly preschool program which will continue to partner with local daycares and provide fun activities and obstacle courses for the kids.
The great stories coming out of Tisdale are, in large part, a result of staff collectively taking up the torch and committing to healthy living. They have embraced the need for physical activity and healthy eating, not only in the lives of their children, but in their own daily activities as well. Staff are now making sure to take the time to sit down with the children at snack and mealtimes, joining in and trying new foods with them. In addition, several staff have recently joined a gym to help them along on their journey towards healthy living. It is important for caregivers to lead by example, modelling healthy behaviours in their day-to-day. Heather Storey, an early years educator at Tiny Tornadoes sums it up quite nicely, “We believe if we are enthusiastic about living a healthy lifestyle, we will be role models to our children and [we] hope they will be just as passionate living a healthy lifestyle.”
Healthy Start wishes to thank Heather Storey and Tisdale Tiny Tornadoes Daycare for taking the time to share their inspiring stories and successes – you are truly amazing “Healthy STARS”!