Thumbs Up For New Health Initiative

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A new health programme at The St. Michael School has been lauded by Health Minister, John Boyce.

Addressing the official launch of NEWSTART, (Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Trust in Divine Power, Air Rest Temperance), at the Martindale???s Road, St. Michael institution, Minister Boyce said: ???With activities such as this to add to our health promotion efforts, we are on our way to a healthier and happier Barbados.???

He added: ???It is indeed commendable that the St. Michael School, in its efforts to expose students and staff to the concepts of good health and healthy living, has declared this year 2016, as their year of health. I trust that they will continue in this vein so that each subsequent year is one of healthy choices, thereby resulting in a lifetime of good health.???

The Health Minister noted that since many habits were acquired during childhood and adolescence, good health practices needed to be inculcated from young.

???The majority of Barbadian children and youth spend significant proportions of their time in schools. Studies have shown that comprehensive school health promotion programmes can have significant impact in improving the health of children. A healthy and happy student is more able to handle the demands of learning, enjoy school life and to cope with life???s challenges,??? Mr. Boyce explained.

While pointing out the important role played by parents and guardians, he said a healthy lifestyle for all was the responsibility of every sector including government, private sector, communities, families and individuals.

???The road to lifelong healthy habits is a long one and parents are the greatest role models. It is said that children are the greatest imitators, so we as parents need to give them something positive to imitate???parents need to show their children through their actions, words and activities how to inculcate a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes when we ask children why they do not eat fruits and vegetables, they respond that their parents do not either.???

However, students were told that as an enlightened group of young people they should not wait on parents to be role models regarding positive behaviours and there was nothing wrong with being the educator or initiator, in the family, on new and innovative positive activity.

They also heard of initiatives the Health Ministry had implemented. These included the introduction of legislation in January 2010 banning the sale of tobacco to minors and legislation prohibiting smoking in public places in October of that same year.

The establishment of the Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise to promote continued physical activity across the country, guidelines for healthy and nutritious foods in schools and paraphernalia to educate the population on the dangers of excessive salt intake were other initiatives mentioned.

And Minister Boyce added: ???We shall continue to tell you not to smoke, to eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and to take regular exercise, but we are cognizant that this is not enough.

We must along with the support of stakeholders such as yourself, create communities, schools, workplaces and markets that make these healthy choices possible.???

Meanwhile principal, Dr. Yvette Mayers, acknowledging that her school took its responsibility to education seriously said they were cognizant that education went beyond the academics.

She stressed: ???We are on a mission to fashion citizens who are not to be a problem to the society in which they find themselves but rather our students are challenged often to become the problem solvers of the society. Therefore, as a school we felt that the best 50th anniversary gift we could give to our nation Barbados is a gift of health and wellness for our community here at The St. Michael School.???

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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