Amidst cheers from a highly jubilant crowd, balloons were on Friday, March 15, 2013, pumped into air, indicating the formal inclusion of 2,000 pupils of the University of Ghana Basic Schools into the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme.
At the same event, Nestlé Ghana handed over dustbins and other logistics to support a ‘Litter-Free Campaign’ spearheaded by the school to improve environmental sanitation, while football kits were also offered the school’s sports team.
At a colorful programme in Accra marked by excited students deftly staging one performance after another, the University of Ghana Basic educational system was also adopted as the model institution for the Healthy Kids Programme in Ghana.
The Healthy Kids Programme was launched in Ghana on a pilot basis in 2011, with the Nutrition and Food Science Department of the University of Ghana, and Ghana’s Ministry of Education serving as implementing partners.
It has reached over 2, 400 pupils in the Agona East and Juaboso Districts in the Central and Western Regions, and would be scaled-up to cover three additional administrative regions - Eastern, Ashanti and Northern - by the close of 2013, bringing the cumulative figure to 9,400.
Each beneficiary pupil is given a Nestlé-sponsored Children’s Reader, the manual used in the 45 minute weekly nutrition and hygiene class, as well as food models and playing kits. Nestlé has also developed an instructor’s manual for use by the teachers.
While the effect of the nutrition class may take some time to gain root by way of positive food habits among the kids, that of the weekly 1-hour physical education lesson is already apparent as the students staged spectacular displays of taekwondo, heraldic dances, music-drama and hip-life renditions adapted to illustrate the theme of the event, ‘Eat Right, Exercise Daily’.
Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana, Moataz El Hout, performed the inaugural event, assisted by the Central and West Africa Regional Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Bineta Mbacké, and Prof. Matilda Steiner-Asiedu, Head of Nutrition and Food Science Department of the University of Ghana.
In an interview, Prof. Steiner-Asiedu described Nestlé’s commitment to exposing students to good nutrition education as “something wonderful” and “in the right direction”, more so when children are generally seen as change agents who can have positive influences on their peers, “bringing about a new generation of healthy people”.
The Nestlé Ghana MD’s message focused on two thematic areas, sports as critical to shaping one’s health and the need for discipline among students to enable them realize their goals.
Headmistress of the school, Cecilia Morrison, was gratified with the focus of the Healthy Kids Programme, which, she said, was crucial if Ghana were to succeed in developing a healthy workforce to boost productivity.
The Healthy Kids Global programme forms an integral part of the Nestlé Creating Shared Value approach to doing business, especially the commitment to improve global nutrition through the promotion of greater awareness, improved knowledge and effective practice of healthy eating and regular physical activity.