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Health focus . . . Cruise Cathcart (4), Little Wonders Oamaru manager Angela Morgan, Eva Mino (2), Heart Foundation nutrition adviser Rebecca Wilson, Amelia Fitzgerald (2), Little Wonders Oamaru cook Jude Middlemass and Mackenzie Phillips (3) with the centre's gold Healthy Heart Award. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

The children at Little Wonders Oamaru are a pretty healthy bunch, according to the Heart Foundation.

Last Monday the centre was presented with a Healthy Heart Award by the foundation, as part of a programme that goes by the same name.

The free programme, partially funded by the Ministry of Health and Wellsouth Primary Health Network, helps early learning services create environments which promote healthy eating and physical activity to under-5 and their families.

Little Wonders signed up for the programme in 2016 and has now earned a gold Pa-Harakere award, the highest of the three award levels.

To earn the award, staff at the centre revamped its menu with a focus on whole foods, and reviewed its policies around healthy eating and physical activity, which led to the implementation of a specific breast feeding programme.

Little Wonders Oamaru manager Angela Morgan said she was proud the centre had achieved gold star status.

“This award is recognition of our centre achievements at interweaving healthy eating and physical activity practices sustainability into all aspects of our environment as well as engaging our community.”

She praised the centre’s cook, Jude Middlemass, for her efforts and said without her, the centre wouldn’t have received the award.

“She works hard to provide delicious, healthy and nutritious food to our tamariki on a daily basis. Without her diligent and caring attitude we wouldn’t have achieved this Pa-Harakeke award.”

Heart Foundation nutrition adviser Rebecca Wilson applauded the centre’s staff and children, and said they had shown “real passion and commitment” on their way to achieving the award.

“Physical activity and healthy eating are ingrained and children are continually exposed to health-promoting messages. This sets them up with a strong foundation for good health and wellbeing throughout their lives.”

Centres that participate in the programme are reassessed biannually to maintain their award status.