Sunrise Early Learning Centre in Weyburn, Saskatchewan have been very strong proponents of healthy eating since they opened up 9 years ago. Recently moving into a new space, and opening to the general public, Sunrise ELC has grown and greatly increased the number of children they care for. Since their expansion, they have had to revamp their menu to be more cost effective. To do this, the centre utilized 7 or 8 recipes from LEAP Food Flair to use within their 6 week menu rotation. “Squashy Muffins” (p. 160 in Food Flair) are a favourite of the centre’s children, being noted by staff as “very moist and delicious”. The centre’s food is all created from scratch, including a variety of ethnic dishes so the children can experience different tastes, textures and flavours from around the world.
The Healthy Start resources are well used and have especially come in handy over the winter months. One educator stated “the (LEAP-HOP) binders are really great because even if you only have a few minutes, you can find a new activity and do it right away”. Another stated “It (LEAP-HOP) brings your attention to how physical the children are on their own and how easy it is to get them moving…it expands the possibilities. It gives other alternatives to tag and hide-and-go-seek.”
The children are active outdoors, as well as in the school, using the hallways and stairwells to move around when it is cold outside. Outdoor time is usually free play, but the children enjoy working on their gross motor skills; climbing on pallets donated by Canadian Tire and creating games using recycled tires. A new favourite is a tunnel that had been taken apart. The centre was going to get rid of the long, hollow tunnel, as the children didn’t seem to be using it. Once taken apart though, the children began using sections of the tunnel in new and creative ways, incorporating the pieces in their play; lifting, rolling and climbing on them.
Sunrise Early Learning staff found Healthy Start resources very easy to follow and enjoy its simple and straightforward layout. One staff commented that “it’s nice they are in point form! If you don’t have a lot of time, it’s easy to get the information you need”. The staff also found that even though they had been doing well with Healthy Eating and Physical activity prior to Healthy Start, the training and resources allow them to keep refreshed and focus on their main objective; raising healthy, active children. They want to let other centres know how easy it is to use the resources and promote active, healthy living in what they do each day. “You just have to be creative! Everybody has their own style, but it’s how you work together to work towards the same goal. Working together as a team, you can definitely make positive changes!”