Healthy Start is one of many provincial and national programs aimed at increasing physical activity, promoting healthy eating and encouraging staff wellness in early year settings. Working on this intervention, we come cross a lot of other great programs that are also accomplishing these goals. We would like to highlight some of the excellent work being done by the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) in Saskatchewan.
On October 29, 2014, two members of the Healthy Start team had the unique opportunity to facilitate a workshop as part of a larger forum, organized by the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, for CAPC Coordinators from all over the province. The forum, held at the Travelodge Hotel in Regina gave participants a chance to attend presentations by Dr. Mariana Brussoni and Dr. Louise Humbert on injury prevention and physical literacy, respectively.
The CAPC program, established in 1992 and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), is part of a larger, national initiative. CAPC’s main objective is to enhance the well-being and healthy development of children living in conditions of risk. Clients of the program are families with low incomes, teen parents, single parents, recent immigrants or come from remote and isolated communities. In Saskatchewan, special consideration is given to Métis, off-reserve First Nations, northern children and their families.
An example of a great initiative funded by CAPC is the Parent & Pre-Kindergarten Education Program (PPEP) in Esterhazy, part of the Good Spirit School Division. The program is offered in three rural communities for children aged 3-5 years old. Parents participate in support groups, parenting courses, and are involved in classroom activities. One of their (post-workshop) goals was to invite Reg Leidl, Physical Activity Consultant with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, to present on physical activity in education environments.
At the forum, the Healthy Start team explained how to incorporate physical activity and healthy eating into the daily routines of these programs, essentially building on the foundations already in place and by sharing the LEAP resources as they are simple, easy-to-use and take a minimum amount of preparation and space to facilitate.
It was interesting to learn that many of the CAPC programs have already developed their own initiatives concerning physical activity, healthy eating and staff wellness initiatives. A lot of great ideas were presented as easy measures to adopt in their daily schedules such as eating with the children more often, providing parents with nutrition information, and making a fun environment to explore new foods. There were also great suggestions for increasing physical activity such as promoting outdoor activities (park time), taking active breaks together with the children, and hosting gym nights for families.
The workshop presented a great opportunity for the Healthy Start team to assist CAPC Coordinators in assessing their current practices, setting SMART (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic/Results-based-Timely) goals, action planning and adopting guidelines to ensure the long-term sustainability of these changes in their projects and centres.