‘’And to think that we began this project with about five people.’’ This phrase reflects the substantial development of the Healthy Start/Départ Santé initiative.
On Tuesday, June 23, 2015 the HSDS Partnership Engagement Meeting was held at Station 20 West and was attended by over 30 people, who are currently involved in the project.
Qualitative data on the impact of this initiative, aimed at increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating in early learning environments, was presented. There is a growing demand from childcare centres to receive the Healthy Start / Départ Santé training. Comments were presented from different early learning centres demonstrating how they changed the way they operate to include more balanced meals and increase physical activity in their daily routines.
The meeting also included various interactive activities during which a number of important themes and objectives emerged, including:
- Expand the initiative to include minorities (First Nations, Inuit, immigrants, Francophones, etc.) and non-licensed childcare;
- Aim for more provincial coverage and political representation of the program;
- Embed the project into Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs at Colleges and Universities to ensure long-term sustainability;
- Identify ways to better inform, involve and train the parents of young children to make this initiative an integrated lifestyle in the lives of these children, and not just a school activity;
- Improve online resources to facilitate access and develop an online Healthy Start / Départ Santé training platform (in French and in English).
It was interesting to see how all partners were able to collectively work together during the day and energetically share their future visions of this project. A lot of productive work to be done! There is no doubt that all these partners, engaged in one way or another, will lead this project to a higher level in the coming years!