‘Little Aussie Bugs’ to teach children how to be healthy

After a successful trial, every WA day care centre will have a series of fun kids books to help foster healthy habits in youngsters.

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‘Little Aussie Bugs’ to teach children how to be healthy

Kids as young as two will soon be learning how to stay healthy, with a new set of children’s books to arrive in every WA Early Childhood Education and Care centre by the end of the year.

A collaborative effort between Edith Cowan University’s Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute and Channel 7/Telethon, the ‘Little Aussie Bugs’ series is launching today with four books: ‘When We Are Hungry’, ‘When We Are Sick’, ‘My Healthy Tummy’ and ‘My Healthy Teeth’.

Launch attendees include Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth Anne Ally MP, and Member for Hillarys Caitlin Collins MLA on behalf of Ministers Amber-Jade Sanderson and Simone McGurk.

The books are aimed at two-to-four-year-old children, featuring short, simple language and characters such as ‘ugly bugs’ and ‘power bugs’ to illustrate what happens inside people’s bodies and other concepts of healthy living.

Researcher Dr Ruth Wallace said it was important to enhance health literacy from a young age.

“Health literacy is where people understand how to be healthy: how to tell adults when they don’t feel well, when to go to the doctor, when to wash your hands and the like,” she said.

“It’s multifaceted and this project aimed to start developing those health literacy skills in very young children.

“We’re trying to use these books as a tool for educators to use to promote the message, using these engaging characters and catch phrases.”

Despite the children’s age, Dr Wallace said there was scope for promoting healthy habits in young children, even though parents ultimately make many decisions on their behalf.

Water from tap running over child's hands.
It is important to enhance health literacy from a young age – like understanding when to wash your hands.

“Research shows many children are at day care for maybe 10 hours a day, five days a week,” she said.

“So, by not only providing them with healthy food, but getting them involved in nutrition and health education, such as getting them to serve themselves and decide when they are full at mealtimes, increases their autonomy.

“They can go home and say, ‘We had a yummy pizza today’, and have a recipe card of how to make it.”

The books have been in trial in select centres and Dr Wallace said feedback has been encouraging.

“Some of the educators have used toy koalas and kangaroos to mimic the characters and to help tell the stories,” she said.

“It’s been getting a great reaction from the kids.”

Following the launch, the books will be redeveloped as e-books accompanied by an online short course for educators to get the most out of the materials.

Credit: ECU Newsroom

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