Leitchville Preschool first to receive Achievement Program award
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Leitchville Preschool first to receive Achievement Program full award

by Freya Lucas

October 20, 2023
Healthy Early Childhood Services Achievement Program

Leitchville Preschool is the first early education facility in Victoria’s Gannawarra Shire to be fully awarded under the Healthy Early Childhood Services Achievement Program.


Gannawarra Shire Council, which manages the facility, recently received notification that its application for the program’s Mental Health and Wellbeing component was successful, meaning the preschool has received recognition for all six heath priority areas.


A celebration was held at the pre-school on Thursday, 12 October to recognise this significant milestone. The event included the preschool children singing an Acknowledgement of Country, highlights of the six-year journey to become awarded under the program, and a sign unveiling.


Council CEO Geoff Rollinson congratulated all the staff who have worked during the past six years to achieve the outcomes of the program.


“Staff have worked closely with current and former families to achieve these priority areas, which also include Healthy Eating/Oral Health; Physical Activity and Movement; Safe Environments; Sun Protection; and Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs,” he said.


Some of the changes that have been made within the service to achieve recognition for the Mental Health and Wellbeing priority area include:


  • Actively engaging children, their families, and the community in planning, developing and delivery of mental health and wellbeing policies and initiatives;
  • Holding Bush Kinder sessions in Gunbower National Park, which helps the physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing of the preschool’s children;
  • Running indoor and outdoor activities that promote problem solving development;
  • Incorporating a “gundja” – a space for role play, camping and increasing understanding and connection to First Nations way of knowing and doing – into the preschool’s program;
  • Incorporating experiences that promote considered age-appropriate risk taking in a safe manner;
  • Providing quiet and reflective spaces for children, educators, and families;
  • Adding yoga and mindfulness sessions into the preschool’s program;
  • Attending community events held in Cohuna and Leitchville;
  • Staff undertaking Beyond Blue Be You training, which provides educators with an understanding of how to intentionally teach social and emotional learning skills, and foster resilience in education settings; and
  • Adding books covering topics such as positive behaviours, emotions, listening and getting along with others to the preschool’s collection.


“These additions are benefiting the preschool’s current group of children and future families as they grow and learn locally,” Mr Rollinson said.  


The Achievement Program’s Head of Healthy Places, Dimity Gannon congratulated Leitchville Preschool on gaining statewide recognition and for making health and wellbeing a community priority.


“Leitchville Preschool should be very proud of their efforts in meeting all six best-practice health benchmarks, knowing it is providing a healthier environment for children, their families and staff,” Ms Gannon said.


“Their exemplary efforts, backed by Gannawarra Shire Council, with local support from Northern District Community Health, sees Leitchville Preschool join close to 190 early childhood settings across the state that have now completed the program.


“From initiatives like Bush Kinder sessions and establishing a ‘Drop, Park, Walk’ active travel zone, Leitchville Preschool’s dedication to health and wellbeing sees local children enjoy learning, playing and being active in an environment that engages and inspires them, setting the foundations for lifelong health.”


The Achievement Program is supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria. The free statewide program provides a framework to support Victorian workplaces, schools, and early childhood services to create healthy places for working, learning, and living.


To learn more or sign up, please visit achievementprogram.health.vic.gov.au

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