Children across North Wales given food for thought as they learn to eat healthy

CHILDREN across North Wales have been enjoying food and exercise activities this summer.

About 50 per cent more schools took part in the award-winning School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP).

SHEP is a school-based education programme, supported by Public Health Dietitians and Dietetic Assistants from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), designed to engage children in fun nutrition and physical activity sessions during three weeks of the summer holidays.

Andrea Basu, Service Lead for Public Health Dietetics, said: “It’s been amazing to see the SHEP scheme grow. We began in 2016 supporting just two schools in Wrexham to then working with 15 schools across North Wales in 2019. In 2020 due to Covid restrictions, the scheme was not able to run, but this summer almost 50 per cent more schools have taken part, with 28 in total.”

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Children enjoy ‘Food and Fun’ activities such as a eatwell relay game, how to build a healthy plate and design healthy meal, and are taught how to find out the sugar content in snack foods and drinks.

Each week the children are encouraged and rewarded for setting their own healthy food target, for example trying a new vegetable.

SHEP is supported by Welsh Government funding and is coordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association. In North Wales the partnership between local authorities, Dietetics, the school meals service, leisure services, and many others has led to the year-on-year growth and success of the scheme.

Before the scheme starts each year, the Dietetics team work with all six North Wales local authority educational teams to provide accredited food and nutrition training for teachers and teaching assistants.

Gail Peters, Public Health Dietitian team lead, in Conwy and Denbighshire, said: “It’s all worth it when we see children laughing and having fun whilst learning about healthy eating and enjoying tasty nutritious school meals.

“There have been so many highlights; children tasting fruits and vegetables they hadn’t ever eaten before and then going back for seconds,the shock on faces when learning how many sugar cubes there are in some favourite foods and drinks and the shrieks of laughter while exercising along to a game all about ‘go’ and ‘whoa’ foods.” 

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