Blogging has given me some of the most amazing experiences, and time and again I am glad that I made career choice that gives me a sense of fulfillment that no other job gave me. Giving back to society is something that I truly believe in, and time and again through the blog you have seen me join forces with brands for some amazing social causes that they associate with. I got to be a part of the Nestlé Healthy Kids initiative a few days ago and it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
As per UNICEF, in India, 20% of children under the age of 5 suffer from acute undernutrition which translates into 1/3rd of the children worldwide suffering from undernutrition. 43% Indian children under 5 years are underweight and 48% are stunted due to chronic undernutrition. India accounts for more than 3 out of every 10 stunted children in the world. It is substantially higher in rural than in urban areas and it is seen more among children whose mothers have no education than among children whose mothers have 12 or more years of schooling. Girls who have been made to drop out of school at an early age and married off forcibly are a huge chunk of the uninformed and helpless lot. Malnutrition basically is the cause for a lot of damage regarding a child’s survival, health, growth and development. However malnutrition also accounts for overweight children which is of high concern now worldwide as that too comes about due to poor nutrition habits. The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme is focused at providing nutrition education to the age group of 8 to 17 in rural areas and backward areas of urban cities through school and community learning. Nestlé's goal is to create and raise awareness regarding good nutritional practices, cooking methods to enhance the nutritional content of foods and physical fitness among children. They use education as the tool for ensuring that children understand the value of nutrition and physical activity, so that they can lead a healthy life as they turn into young and responsible adults.
The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme was started in India on 7th April 2010 on a multi-partnership approach and in 2014 they partnered with the Magic Bus India Foundation. Magic Bus creates a curriculum based on Sports for Development (S4D) approach, imparting knowledge about nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle The games are for physical development and metaphor play wherein the kids are later told the relation with life situations. I got a chance to look at the Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme in detail as I spent a day split between understanding the overall scenario at the Nestlé office, and then spending some time in Trombay, Mankhurd with kids who were part of the community learning programme.
Magic Bus focuses on 5 aspects - Education , Gender, Health, Livelihood and Leadership. They have 3 stages - 8 to 10 years, 10 to 14 years and 14 to 17 years and the curriculum is different for different stages. They have an ecosystem approach wherein other than the kids they involve family, community leaders and teachers. The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme curriculum is curated especially for Nestlé. Other than generic nutritional knowledge, nutrition is also explained keeping the availability of local foods according to the part of the country. Right from understanding what carbohydrates, proteins and fats are to understanding what foods you get them from to the vitamins chart, nothing is left out. Anemia and how to prevent it is also an important aspect. 32 sessions covering different topics are curated to impart all the required knowledge. The sports sessions happen once a week for an hour and it is this that the kids eagerly look forward to every week. There is a huge focus on the girl child. In 2016, the programme enrolled 10000 kids in Mumbai and 75000 across the country. The plan for 2017 is 130000 kids which is really commendable. We played a lot of games with the kids in that one hour of running around that we did, and not only me and the other bloggers, but also every Nestlé employee on the ground there was no less than a kid! :-)
The enthusiasm level that these kids had was amazing. It rubbed off on each one of us there. The focus of the group games which got us involved too was to encourage community living and non discrimination. Once the one hour of games was done, the coach assembled all the kids in one place and then started asking them questions pertaining to the games and then relating situations to life. This is what I really loved, the use of metaphor play for teaching life's learning through games. Such a unique and effective way.
Life rarely gives everyone opportunities like these and I am thankful to Nestlé for having giving me this heart warming opportunity. As a mother myself, the importance of nutrition and physical development for children is something that I severely understand and it makes me want to be a part of this movement even more. I am surely looking forward to spending some more time with these kids soon. Can't wait to go back again!
A healthy child means a healthy body and mind and thus a healthy future not only for the children but also for the country, and the Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme in association with Magic Bus is working in the right direction to achieve that!
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