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Healthy Early Years Forum helps to support the child health agenda
Wednesday 10th March, 2010

Healthy Early Years Forum helps to support the child health agenda
Child health experts at last week's Health Early Years Setting Status Forum

Child health experts from Wigan have joined forces this week to help promote the health agenda for young children.

The Healthy Early Years Setting Status Forum took place on 5th March 2010 at the professional development centre in Hindley, Wigan.

Coordinators from a range of settings met to discuss key areas affecting children including healthy eating, good dental practice, breast feeding and physical activity.

The forum comes at a time when child health matters are the focus of government attention, with initiatives such as the National Childhood Measurement Programme.

Tracy Munro, Healthy Early Settings Co-ordinator at Wigan Council says:
“It’s really important that we promote the health agenda for young people. If we can encourage children to develop healthy behaviours from birth, they are more likely to sustain good health as they grow.”

“We currently have a number of coordinators working in the community, who help to raise awareness of early years health initiatives with nursery providers and parents.”

The forum is hoping to promote a number of key messages to parents including the importance of good dental care for children from birth onwards. Coordinators are trying to encourage parents to take their children to the dentist regularly, reduce the amount of sugary snacks they give their children and foster a good oral hygiene and brushing routine.

Tracy explains: “We work with early years staff to try and achieve the aims of the Wigan Early Years programme. There are lots of good initiatives underway, including our work with the dental profession. We work with them to send out messages to parents about the importance of good dental care for children. We also have other initiatives to encourage healthy eating and promote the benefits of breastfeeding to parents.”

Alison Healey from the Health Improvement Commissions Team at ALW NHS and Wigan Council says: “We really want to try and promote a positive message about breastfeeding and the importance of creating a welcoming environment that encourages breastfeeding as a natural and normal way for a mother to continue to feed her baby. This forum really helps to get this and other healthy lifestyle messages out there into the community.”

The Healthy Early Years Setting Status Forum in one of a number of health promotion initiatives that the council are using to support the healthy living agenda aimed at young children.

Cabinet Champion for Children and Young People, Cllr Susan Loudon, says: “It’s so important that we try to give our children the best start in life, to help them grow and achieve.”

“I’m really encouraged by the early years work taking place within the borough and this forum is a fantastic way for practitioners to share their experience and get healthy living messages out there into the community.”

For more information on the forum and Wigan Council’s other health promotion initiatives, please call Tracy Munro on 01942 777720.

Alternatively, visit the Wigan Life Family Service Directory at: www.wiganfis.org.uk.

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