We need a variety and balance of food to stay healthy. But for many of us, it’s hard to say no to sugary treats. Last year, the Speaker’s School Council Awards received many entries on the health revolution at lunchtimes that is sweeping across schools in the UK.
For Roald Dahl’s centipede it’s jellied gnats and dandyprats and the occasional earwigs cooked in slime, but for you and I, a KitKat and a packet of salty crisps make for an undeniably tasty lunchtime treat.
Scientists say we should halve our current intake of sugar because it is leading to many health problems. In response, young people and teachers across the country have been working hard to take sugar away from their school menus and replace it with healthier alternatives.
School councillors at Victoria Road Primary School from Plymouth became packed lunch monitors and had a daily commitment to check what came in from pupil’s homes. Merits were given to children whose packed lunch demonstrated healthy ingredients. Across the country, snack monitors from Worcesters Primary School collected chocolate bar wrappers from students and analysed them for sugar content. They sent letters to parents to warn them on the dangers of unhealthy snacks to learning and development.
Worcesters Primary School with their suggestion box for better meal choices
Increasing knowledge of healthy eating has informed complete mealtime makeovers in schools. School councillors from Ladies’ College in Guernsey paired with different members of staff and spoke to a range of advisors from nutritionists to catering facilities. Students successfully transformed their canteen into a space that promotes socialising and a balanced diet. Larmenier and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in London worked closely with their school catering company to develop a new healthy recipe, with fresh and sustainable ingredients. As a result, their catering company adopted the new recipe to all school menus across the country.
Starting up healthy ventures has also provided business experience for school councils. Greasley Beauvale Primary School in Newthorpe introduced Fruity Friday, where children were given fruit they grew in a vegetable plot on school, with the help of their grandparents. ‘Primary Minister’ Kieran says ‘I am helping my school to become healthier and as an added advantage, I am learning more about businesses’. School councillors at Glencairn Primary School in Scotland started a 'Healthy Tuck Shop', created initially to promote healthy eating throughout the school, but found that they have made profits on selling fruit and water.
Eating too many calories without enough exercise can lead to obesity. School councils have been responding to this growing need to encourage students to get moving, with creative results. A student council from Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire led a series of health related events in a health awareness week. From year 7 students cycling the length of Ireland, year 9 students running the length of Hertfordshire to year 8 students organising a flash mob, every class in school participated in a series of fun and healthy activities.
School councils are fighting the good fight against sugar and their projects have produced some fantastic results. Judging by the health revolution sweeping through our schools, Mr Dahl’s centipede was most right with his choice of snack; one tiny bite of a healthy, fantastic peach!
What changes have you made to the health and wellbeing of your school? If you are working on a health awareness project or a school council project on any issue, don’t forget to enter in our Speaker’s School Council Awards competition. The deadline for 2014/5 competition is Friday January 9th2015. Good luck!