Many of today’s children face challenges when it comes to good nutrition and healthy living. Teaching learners about the importance of healthy eating choices and regular physical activity is included in the Life Orientation curriculum in South African schools. Many of our Primary schools, though, are in need of innovative programmes and resources to teach learners about healthy living and good nutrition. After a highly successful pilot project, Woolworths has launched a new component of their Woolworths Educational Programme for Primary schools, dietitian-led Learner Talks for Grade 4 children. Participating schools in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng can now book these interactive 30-minute lessons which accommodate up to 100 children. It is the first time that professional dietitians are getting a chance to interact with learners directly in the school environment, and to share their expertise in a fun and age-appropriate way. The lessons are based on a specific vegetable or fruit theme, such as tomato, apple, carrot or banana. Each lesson begins with a “food aerobic’ session that gets learners moving by spelling out the letters of the theme fruit or vegetable with their bodies. The dietitian then leads an interactive discussion about the particular fruit and vegetable which includes fun and interesting facts, how it grows and a question and answer session on what we can do with it in our diet. The main messages of the lesson are summed up in a participative, motivational chant which helps to emphasise the important role that fruit and vegetables play in balanced daily nutrition. At the end of the lesson, the learners each receive the theme fruit or vegetable to encourage them to put what they have learnt into practice. “The idea of highly interactive, dietitian-led Learner Talks is to provide current, professional advice on healthy eating right where it counts: in the classroom,” comments Pieter Twine, Woolworths Educational Programmes Manager. “It is an innovative way for Woolworths to continue its commitment to share its expertise and support education on healthy lifestyles. This is an important extension of the programme; another way that we can support the upliftment of education by providing schools with high quality educational resources and learning experiences that effectively address the concerns about educating children about healthy, sustainable lifestyles.” “Early exposure to nutrition education and the opportunities to make healthy eating choices daily can entrench a sense of accountability for one’s own health, as well as establish essential good nutrition patterns that may last a lifetime, protecting children from the risks of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases. Worldwide, most professional nutritionists recommend that children eat five to eight portions of a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. Thanks to Woolworths Educational Programmes’ Learner Talks, more South African children are learning this valuable lesson” says Maryke Van Zyl, Woolworths dietitian.

Many of today’s children face challenges when it comes to good nutrition and healthy living. Teaching learners about the importance of healthy eating choices and regular physical activity is included in the Life Orientation curriculum in South African schools.