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Brekky best way to start day – and it wins awards

Aug 6th, 2008 | By | Category: News

AVALON Intermediate has become just the second school in the Hutt Valley to gain the prestigious Gold Heartbeat Award for healthy food initiatives.

The Heart Foundation award was presented by health promotion co-ordinator Sian Bliss, who says Avalon Intermediate is a good role model whose “whole-school” approach was the key to achieving the award.

“The level of student involvement is really hands-on…one of the successes is that it’s been student driven,” she says.

Several innovative approaches to promote healthy eating caught the eye of the Heart Foundation.

The school has a student-led breakfast programme, which provides children with healthy, nourishing food to start the day every Wednesday.

Student leader Margaret Judge, 12, has also helped plant fruit trees and a large vegetable garden on school grounds, which is harvested for cooking in food technology classes.

Avalon Intermediate has been ahead of the pack in changing its tuck shop menu in 2006 to include healthy salad sandwiches made from produce in the garden.  Muffins have replaced chippies and cookies, and are provided free once a fortnight.  Fruit breaks during class time encourage fruit consumption.

Principal Ian Hastie is proud to receive the award. As a school which takes a “big picture” approach to educating a diverse cross section of its community, he says he is grateful for the recognition from the Heart Foundation.

The Heart Foundation School Food Programme aims to promote healthy eating to the whole school community – parents and students – through healthy food choices, nutrition education, health promotion and community involvement. Schools receive either a bronze, silver or gold award, depending on meeting specified criteria.


TOP PHOTO: Heart Foundation’s Sian Bliss talks to Avalon Intermediate School students before handing out the school’s gold award.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Sian Bliss and lead students Jolan Hazlewood-Search (left) and Margaret Judge with the gold award.

Porridge gets them focused for the rest of the day

PORRIDGE gets the biggest thumbs up from students at Avalon Intermediate, who come to school early  on Wednesdays for healthy breakfasts as part of the Fuelled4school initiative.

Halfway through the 10-week programme funded by the Ministry of Education, foods teacher Heather Pointon says the breakfasts have been a big success.

“Teachers have noticed changes with these kids…[they are] more focused, alert, ready for the day,” she says.

Principal Ian Hastie agrees: “Students who attend the club have shown a clear difference in their learning and positive application.”

Lead student Jolan Hazelwood-Search helped plan the breakfast club, and other students come in early to help prepare breakfast of cereals, toast, fresh fruit and hot drinks, and also help clean up afterwards.

The breakfasts were started after a student survey showed almost 30% of children were not eating before they came to school, and are just one of the reasons Avalon Intermediate has received the Gold Award from the Heart Foundation.

Ms Pointon says when the one-off Ministry of Education grant ends, the school plans to approach local supermarkets for support to continue the programme.

“The funding covers a lot of what we need, but we’ve been lucky with parent support donating cereal honey and jam.”

The school has also received donations of Weetbix from Sanitarium and milk from Fonterra.


TOP PHOTO:  Cullen Amitanania (left), Caroline Nofoaiga, both 11, and Bradley Cunningham, 12, get themselves fuelled up for a healthy start to the school day.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Food teacher Heather Pointon with her Breakfast Club.

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is a student journo who loves to write. Her interests, apart from media slavery, include social justice, music, sports and gardening. Preferably a combination of all four. She doesn't know yet what she wants to be when she grows up.
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