Healthy Ireland Smart Start Awards

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016


We are thrilled to announce that three of our Giraffe centres have recently been awarded the status of Healthy Ireland Smart Start centres! Congratulations to Giraffe Cherrywood, Giraffe Navan and Giraffe Liffey Valley on completing this initiative. All Giraffe centres are currently enrolled in the programme and expect to receive their awards over the coming few months.

What is Smart Start?

This Pre-school Health Promotion training programme is the result of over a decade of collaborative working led by the HSE Department of Health Promotion and Improvement in partnership with National Childhood Network, to ensure children in the pre-school settings are supported to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours in early childhood. The aim is to bring all people together into a national movement with a single aim to ensure the best possible health and well-being of our nation.

What does it mean?

The programme is broken down into 6 topics:

  1. Health promotion
  2. Emotional well-being
  3. Physical activity
  4. Nutrition
  5. Oral health
  6. Health and safety

Each centre held a staff meeting to discuss way that they could introduce the Healthy Ireland programme into their curriculum and involve the parents at every step of the way.

Activities for the Oral Health topic included:

  • a visit from a local dentist to speak to the children about the importance of brushing
  • a brand new toothbrush for every child
  • a tooth brushing chart to bring home
  • a parent’s information pack

Laura, Deputy Manager in Navan explains how her team worked together with the children and their parents to roll out the Healthy Smart Start Initiatives in their centre:


Laura and Nathalie in Navan

The emotional well-being topic was a lot of fun to promote within the centre.  This got a lot of positive reactions from carers and parents as it can be tricky to deal with at times as the children are learning about their emotions and how to express themselves. For this unit, we shared stories that talked about emotions and feeling, such as the When I’m feeling… books by Tracey Moroney.  There are 8 books in total, each discussing and exploring a different feeling: lonely, scared, happy, sad, jealous, angry, loved and kind.  There was also a CD which played songs to represent the emotions too and we saw the children really connect with the music element of the stories.





If the CD was playing when you entered the room they would run up to you and tell you what emotion was playing.  The angry song was quite popular cause it made you feel like stomping around! 


“Can you point to the picture of this emotion?”

Before we introduced the books to the children, we set up a library for the parents so they could read the books and bring them home to show the children to see how they felt about them and if they had any questions about the books as there were some emotions that children might not have understood yet.  This helps to reinforce new ideas to the children, when they are talked about at home as well as in crèche.  



All of our centres will roll out the Healthy Ireland programme in the coming months

With special thanks to:

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