Child care

Health kick for WA schools

The McGowan Government has announced a new initiative to promote healthy habits across WA schools in need.

The initiative aims to provide funding for resources in schools such as produce gardens. Photo: Lisa Nicole.

A $50,000 grant will be spread across 10 schools in WA to establish programs aimed at improving the wellbeing of students and school communities.

Coodanup College teacher Jane Timmens says the announcement comes as welcome news as struggling schools need an extra boost to help disadvantaged children.

“I think it’ll be really beneficial to have that sort of support in schools, particularly ours.”

Ms Timmens says Coodanup College near Mandurah offers a breakfast program aimed at feeding children who aren’t necessarily fed at home.

“It’s really hard to get on with your day and learn when you haven’t had a meal, it’s quite distracting when you’re hungry.

“I think a community garden would be great for our home economics area and great for our canteen to link the kids in so they can actually see where the produce is coming from and improve their mental health,” she says.

Australia’s mental health crisis has worsened in recent years with a WA government report showing more than 24 children presenting to emergency departments for mental health reasons every day in 2020.

Nature Play WA chief executive officer Griffin Longley says while the healthy habits grant is an important initiative, the limited funding must be distributed wisely.

“Schools are incredibly good at taking an inch and turning it into a mile,” he says.

Schools can apply for funding grants to improve healthy behaviours amongst students. Photo: Katya Minns.

“They can stretch funding through their dedicated teachers, parents and volunteers in a way that few other organisations can do.”

Mr Longley says while students in schools face huge mental health challenges, this is a step towards improving childhood health and wellbeing outcomes.

“I think it’s a good sign that we’re moving beyond the messages of eat well and be physically active” he says.

“It’s a really positive sign.”

Schools which represent Aboriginal children or are in regional and remote areas experiencing disadvantage are encouraged to apply for the grant before April 27.