(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

SINGAPORE – All mainstream schools now offer healthier food, as part of a broader initiative to help young people adopt healthier habits.

Under the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme, canteen stall operators must serve healthier food – such as white rice mixed with brown and wholemeal bread sandwiches. In February, the Ministry of Education (MOE) had said that 319 out of 359 schools from the primary level to junior college have adopted this scheme.

A series of programmes aimed at fostering healthy behaviours among the young have also been progressively rolled out in various institutions here, said the MOE and Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release on Monday (July 17).

Both ministries were giving an update to a slew of recommendations made by the NurtureSG task force in Feburary this year, which identified four areas to focus on, namely mental health, physical activity, nutrition and adequate sleep.

Progress was made on several fronts, said the ministries. Between January and April this year, over 2,200 parents and children participated in the Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s pilot Active and Healthy Weekends programme, which involves family-friendly fitness activities at community sites.

Some schools, such as Fernvale Primary School and Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) have also been providing students with greater access to sports equipment and facilities outside formal curriculum hours, allowing them to play sports during recess time.

Support for young people’s mental health is also being stepped up.

MOE and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) have started providing training courses to teach school staffabout how they can look out for signs of mental stress in students. These courses will be conducted in phases over the next two years. The HPB will also start training pre-school educators on how they can help prepare children for the transition to primary school.

As part of the National Youth Work Competency Framework which was launched last week, youth workers will also go through courses on mental health. This will be ready by the second half of 2017 and is expected to benefit 200 youth workers.

The HPB has also set up a microsite (www.goodsleep.sg) to educate parents on the importance of adequate and quality sleep in children. It will provide information such as recommended sleep durations, signs of insufficient sleep and also tips on how healthy sleep habits can be inculcated.

Messages on sleep health and good sleep practices will also be incorporated into physical education by the MOE, and a mini-booklet has also been produced to give parents more information on how to improve the health of their children.

It can be found at www.moh.gov.sg/nurtureSG.

More Info: www.straitstimes.com