Smiles 4 Miles in Ballarat early learning centres

 Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health and healthy eating habits

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Healthy eating and good oral health are vital for the healthy development of children and are key determinants of good health in later life. Tooth decay is largely preventable1. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who present to public dental clinics in 2021-22 have a history of tooth decay and only six percent of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day2.

Smiles 4 Miles Coordinator, Demelza Diacogiorgis, said that centres like Perridak Burron Early Learning are helping to set families up for success by instilling good oral health and healthy eating habits for life.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” said Demelza.

“Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

What they did

With Demelza’s support, Perridak Burron have successfully achieved their Smiles 4 Miles award by implementing a healthy eating and oral health policy, engaging with families about the importance of oral health, and educating children through a variety of fun learning experiences based on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages – Drink well, Eat well and Clean well.

In addition, Perridak Burron worked closely with HEAS to improve the food and drink provision at the service. They completed a full menu assessment using the online menu assessment tool, FoodChecker and introduced new menu items by taking inspiration from the recipes available on the HEAS website to meet the menu planning guidelines for long day care.


Advice for others

Sophie Collins, Centre Director at Perridak Burron, shared her tips for other early childhood education and care services who aim to improve their healthy eating and oral health promotion.

“It definitely takes a whole team approach to get the best results for your centre. We involved not only our management team, but also our full-time, part-time and casual educators in the process,” said Sophie.

“We recognised that there would need to be some changes made to our menu and our practices – and we embraced this opportunity to learn and grow as a team.”

Case study link: Perridak Burron Early Learning Case Study

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