Winning approach to children’s health and wellbeing at Jindi Kindergarten
A holistic approach to improving health outcomes for children at the Jindi Kindergarten and Extended Care Centre in Mernda has led to success in the 2016 Victorian Early Years Awards.
The Jindi centre
, which cares for 99 children and provides a vital support network for local families, won the award for ‘Promoting Children’s Health and Wellbeing’ in a ceremony at the National Gallery of Victoria on 18 October.
Since first opening in 2015, the centre has established strong community connections, linking services and offering a range of early intervention programs for children and their families, with a particular focus on supporting those most vulnerable.
The centre’s outstanding model, which provides children with a strong early life educational experience while promoting best practice health and wellbeing outcomes, has been the result of a unique partnership between Goodstart Early Learning, Brotherhood of St Laurence and the City of Whittlesea, with support from Plenty Valley Community Health.
Goodstart State Manager for Victoria Sharon Whiteman said the focus at Jindi goes beyond learning achievements for children.
“The centre was established in a rapidly growing suburb where at the time there were few services, amenities and opportunities for community connections. Additional underlying stress factors such as financial hardship and family violence led to a critical need to provide child and family support services in a more innovative way,” Mrs Whiteman said.
“Jindi takes a holistic approach to improving health and wellbeing which in turn supports improved child learning outcomes. Families can access multiple services for their children and themselves in a unified way, and in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment.
“As a team, we are incredibly proud of this achievement. It is wonderful to receive industry recognition as a testament to the positive impact the Jindi centre makes in the local community to support children and families,” she said.
Health and wellbeing initiatives offered at the centre include:
- Visits from the Dental Health Services Smiles 4 Miles program to promote good oral health practice
- Hearing tests offered for all three and four year-old onsite (4 times a year)
- Physical health and wellbeing programs embedded in the curriculum, including yoga and ‘Healthy Aussies Kids’ (offsite bushwalking activity) as well as other play-based learning activities
- Gardening and cooking program where children take an active role in planting and maintaining the centre’s vegetable and herb gardens
- Maternal and child health checks are made easily accessible to families due to the co-location of a MCH Centre within the Jindi Family and Community Centre
- Sun Smart accredited through the Cancer Council Victoria
- Facilitated family playgroups offered two times a week to increase social connectedness
- Excess food from the centre’s kitchen is redistributed to families in need
- A number of family and community events are held regularly
- Training classes are held for parents and the broader community, providing opportunities to learn English, update computer skills and develop workforce skills to support women in particular to confidently re-enter the workforce
- The centre is registered with the Healthy Together Achievement Program as part of their commitment to providing a whole-of-service approach to improving health outcomes for children, staff and families
- Qualified staff with a wealth of experience in education and health
The awards, now in their 11th
year, recognise exceptional contributions that individuals and organisations make to improving the learning and development of young children and supporting their families.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said the Early Years Awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of some of our most inspiring early years professionals.
“The time to shape lives starts during early childhood and these individuals and organisations have all had a lasting impact on children across Victoria,” she said.
Jindi Kindergarten and Extended Care Centre has received $15,000 in prize money to support the development of their program.