St Lachtain’s N.S. in Freshford, County Kilkenny, became the latest school in the country to be presented with the Healthy Ireland ‘Health Promoting Schools Flag’.
The Healthy Ireland Health Promoting Schools (HPS) Flag is presented by the HSE to schools as an acknowledgement of their work in improving the health of their school communities. The HPS supports schools to focus on health and wellbeing and involves all members of the school community. Students, staff, parents and guardians are consulted to identify priority health areas. Over a period of around 2 school years, schools develop an action plan to address the health areas identified.
Schools are guided to address their priority area under the following evidence based categories: environment (social and physical) curriculum, policies and partnerships. Schools work at their own pace supported by the HSE Health Promotion & Improvement Dept. in each school, a HPS coordinator and HPS team lead out on the progression of health and wellbeing and this work is supported by the school principal, board of management and wider school community. European research has shown many benefits of the HPS - whole school approach to health. Chief among these benefits are increased self-esteem, safer and cleaner school environments, lowered incidences of bullying, a positive approach to health issues, increased parent involvement and better student/teacher relationships to name a few.
In St Lachtain’s N.S. some of the many health initiatives chosen to take on board in order to progress as a Health Promoting School include: 1. Promoting healthy eating and awareness of good nutrition; 2. Promoting and encouraging regular physical activity in school and outside of school; 3. Promoting good mental-health and wellbeing and raising self-esteem among children in the school.