Natural Health Award continues to inspire active children

Natural Health Award continues to inspire active children
Childminders take a spotlight role in promoting the positive effects of being active in the great outdoors as part of the continued success of the Natural Health Award, benefiting children’s wellbeing.

Launched by NHS Forth Valley earlier this year, the Natural Health Award is now expanding from its beginnings in the Stirling area to across the entire Forth Valley region, and the ground-breaking efforts of childminders continue to be recognised.

Childminders have been celebrated for their pioneering outdoor play activity scheme, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children as they learn through outdoor play, exploring their natural environment.  

The aim of the Natural Health Award is to increase physical activity, by getting children outside and connecting with the natural environment, and therefore promoting mental wellbeing and increased reliance.

Janine Ryan, Head of Childminding Services at Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) said: “Once again, it is wonderful to see childminders taking a spotlight role in promoting the positive effects of being active on children’s physical and mental health, and their overall wellbeing.

“The majority of childminders already incorporate high levels of activity and outdoor active play into their daily routine; however, they are not always aware of just how truly ground-breaking it is.

“More recognition is required for the childminding sector and we are delighted that this Natural Health Award enables childminders to take a leading role and gain the credit and praise they deserve. 

“Playing games, walking to and from school, the opportunity to explore and learn through outdoor play is such second nature to childminders, and integral to their daily routine and activities.  And it’s each childminder’s inspiring efforts that are playing such a vital role in keeping children active and encouraging healthy eating habits, which has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.”

As the project expands, Grangemouth Childminding Group and Tullibody Childminders are the latest childminders to get involved and have been working alongside SCMA’s Quality Improvement Officer, Lynne Murray to make progress throughout the summer.  

Elaine Cochrane, Health Promotion Officer for NHS Forth Valley and founder of the Natural Health Award, said: “Having a practical framework provides a motivational tool for childminders and encourages them to provide even more opportunities for group activities, socialising, physical activity, creativity and active outdoor play.

“Evidence suggests a life-long interest in nature and being physically active within the natural environment starts in the early years, and this award provides the theoretical background which reinforces why the outdoor play and learning that childminders are facilitating is so important to the overall development of a healthy child’s wellbeing.”

NHS Forth Valley is hosting a reception in Stirling on Wednesday (11 July) to showcase various projects that promote physical activity across all age groups. The Natural Health Award is the only project that is linked to early years, with childminders making a positive difference to the wellbeing of children across the region. 

SCMA’s Lynne Murray, also attended the event with Stirling childminder Caroline Stuart, who led the first childminding group to their Natural Health Award earlier this year. Lynne said: “We wanted to highlight why the Natural Health Award was unique for the Early Years sector, and that childminders are leading the way in embracing the positive impact that outdoor play and learning has on children’s wellbeing.”