From May 14th to June 14th, 2019 the South-West Regional Health Authority in collaboration with the Health Education Division, Ministry of Health, embarked on The Healthy Me in Schools Programme. This initiative focussed on encouraging primary school students mainly those in the post SEA age group, to lead healthier lives aimed at decreasing the effects of the chronic non-communicable diseases by incorporating good nutrition, physical activity, mental health and oral health in their daily lives.
This programme kicked off on May 14th, in County Caroni South at the Gran Couva Health Centre with schools from the area. The team then visited the areas of Barrackpore, Williamsville and Claxton Bay in County Victoria on May 16th and 17th and June 6th respectively. They continued to promote healthy lifestyle choices to the students the County St. Patrick area when they hosted sessions on May 21st and June 6th in Siparia and La Brea respectively. The initiative culminated with an interactive session for 172 Primary School students hosted by the Couva District Health Facility Primary Care at the Preysal Secondary School Auditorium on June 14th.
One of the essential aspects of this outreach was the introduction of Mental Health and its importance especially for children during their transition to teenagers and the stressors that can lead to self-harm and suicide. The children were encouraged to seek help if they or anyone else they knew was experiencing challenges in mentally coping with daily situations.
Speaking at the Preysal Secondary School Dr. Sandi Arthur, Primary Care Physician II said, “We are hoping that if we can encourage the children and teach them about healthy lifestyles, how to plate their food, how to balance off meals and choose nutritious things then we influence not just them but their parents by extension as they influence what their parents buy to an extent.” She concluded, “We had an enjoyable day interacting with the students and we do hope and look forward to more programmes like this in the future.”