Carnlough School Reaching Out To Families During Financial Crisis

Healthy Heroes Lunch Club among series of initiatives

Carnlough Integrated Primary School is reaching out to pupils and their families as the cost-of-living crisis bites, with a series of initiatives to provide support and healthy, curriculum-led options designed to offer practical options.

The school has launched its Healthy Heroes Lunch Club with P6 and P7 pupils leading this school nutrition programme.

Launched recently, the programme, from the Irish Bread Bakers Association, aims to engage pupils in peer learning to encourage healthy eating.

Principal, Claire Mulholland, explained that the ethos of inclusion of the school is very much part of being a supportive environment that includes helping parents and families at this time when so many are experiencing financial difficulties.

“The Healthy Heroes Lunch Club is part of our efforts to make sure that our pupils are aware of how they can make healthy choices,” she said. “That learning is very much being undertaken by the children themselves, and the scheme is designed so that these choices can feedback to other pupils and their families.

“The learning also showcases how the healthy options can be more affordable for families in addressing their nutrition needs.”

Designed by Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietitian at The Blackrock Clinic, Dublin, it has grown into one of the leading pupil-led healthy eating programmes for children.

During lunch, the club meet to eat together and nutrition is addressed informally through teacher led discussion.

The children then take over and run the activities, building on those suggested in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club pack and developing their own club games.

“The fact that, with a little teacher input, this programme emphasises that children can lead, and innovate when given the opportunity. It also echoes perfectly our school motto, ‘Learning Together’.”

In conjunction with the scheme, the school is offering free breakfast club and free break time snack on the last Friday of every month for every child. This will run until the end of the school year.

The initiative comes at a time when further support was announced by the school.

“An anonymous supporter of integrated education has pledged to donate five school uniforms each year to be kept for emergencies or for new families starting in the school in the middle of an academic year,” explained Miss Mulholland. “As we already hold some stock in school, we have been able to donate uniforms to our new Ukrainian families who have joined us.”

That support of new pupils, from a very different background, is a further emphasis of Carnlough Integrated Primary School’s culture.

“We are so very proud of our integrated ethos, an ethos that is about more than just religious balance, but about all abilities, needs, race, culture, gender, economic background,” said the principal. “We are here to welcome everyone to our loving and nurturing school community.

“Our children know that each and every one of us is unique and different, but we are also special and important. Our job is to learn from one another and with one another in a safe and secure environment.

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