Grade 1 School Uniforms and books are not enough

Grade 1

Soothing Grade 1 fears with food is to be treated with caution

Back-to-back commercials are imminent. Wallets will be in meltdown from paying for school uniforms, books, stationery and school fees. For the first-time school parents, preparing their 2019 Grade 1s comes with a bag of mixed emotions; excitement and a good helping of anxiousness.

They wonder and worry how their children will deal with the new routine and friends; unfamiliar teachers and playgrounds without their mom by their side. It often seems like the only thing that moms can control over this time is their child’s lunch box. However; before you stretch your bank balance even further with sweets and chocolates, fruit boxes and strip packs of crisps; it would be wise for moms, dads and caregivers too, to champion the cause that positive nutrition yields positive school performance and health outcomes.

Important Nutrition deposit for Grade 1 Children set a foundation

Marlinie Kotiah, a qualified dietitian, mother of two daughters and Head of Corporate Affairs at Danone, says, “These first days are a tipping point that could predict whether a child’s body will be fuelled with the right nutrients to help keep them strong every day, or whether they will associate unhealthy foods with comfort. If the latter, it can set them up for a lifetime of poor food choices and unfulfilled potential. Providing good nutrition is not complex, just a return to the simple basics we all know. Danone is driving this with our #MillionMoms Pledge for Healthy Change campaign.“

Kotiah explains that children think and talk like their parents; and it’s very likely they will inherit their parents’ eating habits too. The selections we make for lunch boxes, for snacks, for main meals all have a lasting impact on our children’s health. Recent research noted in the latest 2018 Healthy Active Kids of South Africa Report Card that the incidence of poor health and conditions like diabetes are on the rise amongst children. The report also mentions the adverse impact of poor nutrition on “cognition” – the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. In other words, good nutrition is vital for success at school.

As part of Danone’s “One Health. One Planet” vision, the company is calling for 1 Million South African moms to Pledge for Healthy Change to keep their families to live their best, healthy lives.

The Pledge is simple:

  1. Eat breakfast every day.
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruit every day.
  3. Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day.
  4. Drink more water every day.
  5. Move more every day.

“Once moms have signed the Pledge, they will be supported with tips, the opportunity to talk to other moms and also to ask nutrition experts for advice through live chats,” Kotiah explains. “Moms are digitally connected information seekers.”

“The power of the mother to change the shape of our future’s health is well recognized. Her fierce strength to protect and nourish her family is already an in-built quality, and we want to help her use this to her advantage,” says Managing Director at Danone Southern Africa, Hendrik Born. “The early years provide a crucial window of opportunity to establish healthy eating behaviour in our young children. Danone wants to serve the community they work in by offering healthier solutions for the whole family.”

Healthy eating introduced as early as in Grade 1

Driving a movement for healthier food choices for our children is part of Danone’s One Planet, One Health commitment. “Danone Southern Africa needs to be part of the solution for encouraging wellness, as opposed to treating diseases,” says Born. “The challenge is to bring about sustainable change, create the awareness, and provide the support that moms need.”

The responsibility of being a parent can be overwhelming. To create this awareness of the simple steps contained in the Pledge for Healthy Change, the Day One campaign will be launched at 12 primary schools and aimed at new Grade 1s and their moms. Four radio stations will be broadcasting to more than a million radio listeners to drive the message of positive changes in eating habits.   “Our intent is to go beyond the products we make. We are convinced that if healthier products are not preferred, there is no impact on the diet, nor on health. Education on how to choose healthier solutions is the key,” Born concludes.