Under the Healthy Early Years London awards scheme, nurseries, children’s centres, playgroups and childminders in London will be given support to help children learn about the importance of healthy eating and exercise, and help with their social and emotional development.
It aims to encourage children and their families to eat healthy food, drink water, play outside, walk or cycle, sleep well, sing and read and learn skills including brushing their teeth properly.
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There are four levels of awards for settings to achieve – first steps, bronze, silver and gold.
The scheme, which is designed to complement and enhance the EYFS framework and has been highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Partnership for Healthy Cities as an example of good work across the globe, has already been piloted by 60 childcare providers across six boroughs and is now being expanded across the capital. London’s 13,000 early years settings are being encouraged to sign up.
The Healthy Early Years London awards scheme forms part of the Mayor's Health Inequalities Strategy, published last month, which aims to make London a healthier and fairer city and tackling conditions such as obesity that affect health.
According to data from Public Health England, there are stark disparities in children’s health depending on their household income and where they live. In Tower Hamlets, babies are more than two and half times more likely to born at a low birth weight than those in Richmond upon Thames.
An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Health Early Years London awards scheme will be carried out by the Mayor of London’s office with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies Partnership for Healthy Cities.
The Mayor said, ‘Our capital faces huge health inequalities and it’s shocking that, even from the youngest of ages, children’s health suffers because of the circumstances into which they are born. We know that giving children the best start in life is the most effective way to address health inequalities in the longer term, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that every London child can enjoy the best possible start to life. That’s why through our new Healthy Early Years London programme we’re looking at every aspect of a child’s life so that we can help them grow and develop in the healthiest possible way.’
Commenting on the launch of the scheme, Annie Denny, nutrition development manager at the Early Years Nutrition Partnership, said, ‘We welcome the launch of the Healthy Early Years London (HEYL) programme which mirrors the Early Years Nutrition Partnership’s ambition to give children the best possible start in life. We work with early years settings across London to help them achieve excellence in their nutrition practice, offering them unique, individualised support. Accreditation with the Early Years Nutrition Partnership Quality Mark enables settings to reach beyond the HEYL food and nutrition standards, striving for excellence in provision and outcomes.’
- Early years settings in London can sign up to the Mayor of London’s awards scheme here