Hilltop Road Primary School on the Walkway to Health

11 September 2009

Hilltop Road Primary School spent their winter school days getting ready to spring into action. Sydney University Faculty of Health Science (FHS) Students and Ambassadors visited the school in Merrylands on 27th and 28th August. Focusing on their goal of "educating children about healthy habits to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and set up good habits early to avoid chronic disease", the team ran an exciting series of presentations and interactive activities focusing on exercise and nutrition.

Over 500 kindergartens to year 6 students and their teachers gathered in the school hall for the presentations and games. The specific topics covered were:

  • What constitutes good health and why it's important to be healthy
  • Energy balance
  • Physical activity (leisure time physical activity and incidental activity)
  • The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • Food Groups
  • Healthy snacking and making healthy food choices
  • Breakfast and hydration

The above health messages were delivered in a variety of creative modes that children can enjoy, including quizzes, demonstrations, games, songs, dances and more. In the spirit of encouraging physical activity, both the children and teachers found themselves jumping, twirling, shaking, and stretching throughout the hour. This was a presentation where everyone had to be ready to get on their feet and get moving.

Students and ambassadors enjoying the activties on the day
Students and ambassadors enjoying the activties on the day

From the laughing, cheering and overall class participation, it was evident that the children were enjoying their presentations. They were attentive and well behaved throughout the session. In recognition of the children's excellent behavior, enthusiasm and newly acquired knowledge, certificates were handed out to the class teachers for later distribution.

At the conclusion of the presentations, the visiting FHS students received great feedback from the Deputy Principal and other teachers. The children and teachers appreciated the health messages, and were very impressed by how the presentations were structured to include a huge variety of hands-on activities.

Although the first workshop may be over, the project extends further then a day of presentations and activities. A school craft activity will follow; every class in the school will work on an artwork inspired from the presentations and games. The theme will be 'Tips to Healthy Living'. These artworks will then be displayed along a corridor near the gym and canteen, transforming it into the "Walkway to Health". It is a colourful wall made by school students for students and will serve as a reminder of how to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It begins with simple things, like getting active and making healthy choices at the canteen.

The Student Ambassadors believe in educating children early to instill good habits at an young age. After the presentations, we hope the message will stay in the school in the form of the "Walkway to Health". This project is an example of how the Faculty of Health Sciences reaches out to the wider community to encourage them to "Be Part of a Healthy Future".

The school visits were conducted as part of the FHS Walkway to Health Program, a project planned, organised and implemented by FHS Student Ambassadors Vanita Balani, Yi Fan Tang, Elena Rigopoulos, and Project Leader Peggy Huang. This is a unique project and brought together students from different disciplines including Physiotherapy, Exercise and Sport Science and Nutrition, Speech Pathology and Orthoptics. Every member brought an interesting and valuable perspective to the project, resulting in an example of how different health workers can unite under a common goal: to improve the health of others and the wider community. It was also an excellent opportunity for the team members to make friends and further develop their own professional skills and knowledge, leadership qualities, communication, presentation, and organisation skills.