In a playgroup that offers much more than play, Elkford families experience a unique twist on preschool age fun with the Healthy Start Program.
Healthy Start is a family-centered early childhood development program focused on physical activity, healthy eating and self-esteem building activities allowing parents to actively participate with their children in many different types of activities.
Healthy Start is an active playgroup, which offers everything you would typically find in a preschool program, along with promoting and fostering healthy choices for families. The program strives to role model active parenting that engages families in making healthy lifestyle choices. The program venue at the Teck Hall at the Elkford Community Centre allows the creation of an indoor playground giving children an opportunity to spend their energy and engage in structured and unstructured games and activities.
“We feel it is important to offer parents and children an active group to teach parents easy ideas to keep their children active at home, create positive self-esteem and teach healthy eating habits,” said Ravneet Gill, Elkford’s Early Childhood Development Coordinator.
“Here in Elkford there is not a Strong Start Program as typically found in most communities, so this program provides those same key elements while offering more, such as snowshoeing, sledding and discussions on healthy eating,” he said. “The feedback we get from people is amazing and the program is very well received. We took a chance holding this program on the weekend, but found it to be great for those parents who work during the day, or are even on a shift schedule.”
The program is based on the HOP (Healthy Opportunities for Preschoolers) Program and Food Flair by Leap B.C. and starts with opening circle and story time in the playschool area followed by free play with gross motor toys in the hall, structured group games, activities, songs, dancing, crafts and healthy snack time. Parents and children participate together in snack preparation and talk about healthy options and what healthy food can do for your body.
“The program is very accessible, it’s free and attended by drop-in, so no prior registration is required. We would really like to let parents know that everyone is welcome, and encourage those with pre-school aged children to come and see what it’s all about. Of course, older and younger children are welcome, but the activities are geared towards those ages three to six,” Gill said.
The Healthy Start Program runs Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. till noon and is facilitated by Nikole Sharpe and Samantha Rector.