School kids find the sweet spot with fruity breaks

From Taste the Rainbow Wednesday to Fruity Friday, pupils from Killowen Primary School and St John’s Primary school in Coleraine are eating well thanks to a healthy break programme. The project is supported by Radius Housing and was developed as part of their Laurel Hill Gardens Advisory Group. The aim is to support healthy living and eating among the children, giving them a chance to try new fruits and vegetables, and learn about the health benefits. 

Healthy Breaks saw the two schools work together as part of their ‘Living and Learning Together’ Shared Education programme, and a range of fruit and vegetables were provided to the schools for break time. Fruit and vegetables are important parts of a balanced diet, and this project helped to add to the children’s intake, which is even more essential at a time when food prices are rising.

The project aimed to deliver positive health messaging among the children, as well as bringing communities together within Radius T:buc / Housing for All Shared Housing areas. The Department for Communities provides Good Relations funding to support Shared Housing developments and their communities, which contribute to the Executive’s overall approach to creating a shared society.

Speaking about the Healthy Break Programme, Lisa Mooney from Radius Housing said “The Laurel Hill Gardens Advisory Group has been proactive in identifying issues which impact local people and looking for solutions. With rising prices of food and the impact on the weekly shopping, they saw that there was a way to promote healthy eating and help local families make a saving on snacks for the lunch box. The schools and pupils have really embraced the opportunity to try new fruits, and it has supported their work on healthy living.” 

Lynne Caskey from Killowen Primary School said “Taste the Rainbow Wednesday is a highlight each week in Killowen Primary School. Trays of delicious fruit and veg are delivered to each class for the children to enjoy. As well as the usual fruit and veg favourites, children have been able to sample many other types of fruit and veg. Persimmon, mango, chopped beetroot and turnip were the latest additions to the trays. We have found that more children are trying fruit and vegetables with their friends in class. Parents have mentioned too that they are being asked to buy more fruit and veg at the supermarket. Thank you to Radius Housing for giving us the wonderful ‘healthy’ opportunity.”

Helen McDonnell from St. John’s PS added “Fruity Friday is the school’s favourite time of the week. The children can’t wait to see the array of fruits presented to them on their class platter each week. Children who would have resisted healthy breaks previously are now eating watermelon, kiwi, blueberries, pineapple and many more fruits on a regular basis at home and at school. This initiative is hugely contributing to raising awareness of living healthier and happier lives. Thanks you to Radius Housing for this opportunity.”

This programme is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.  A total of £2,080,307 has been invested in the Laurel Hill Gardens Shared Housing development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan. 

Radius Housing has both completed and proposed shared housing development in nine areas across Northern Ireland. The Good Relations plan for each includes ‘bridging’ events with the wider community which encourage a range of outcomes including health and well-being and education and training.