On Monday 23 May Sander Dekker, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, visited the project Healthy Elementary School of the Future in Parkstad. The projectleader Onno van Schayck and the responsible Province Deputy Marleen van Rijnsbergen explained the aim and the background of the project.
Sander Dekker visited one of the ‘Healthy Schools’, participated in the joint healthy lunch and watched the lunchtime programme focused on sports, exercise, health and culture. He engaged in conversations with the children themselves, but also with teachers, volunteers and researchers. The children at this ‘Healthy Elementary School of the Future’ have a longer school day with more time for exercise and culture as well as spending time together to eat a healthy lunch every day. Mr. Dekker had lunch with the youngest toddlers in group 1 and expressed his enthusiasm and interest for this project during his visit. Health and more exercise in schools is one of the priorities of the Ministry. The Minister will closely follow the developments of this project in the coming years.
The Healthy Elementary School of the Future was launched in 2015. The aim of this project is to investigate what the effects are of a daily schedule with a well-balanced programme with education, sports, play and attention for healthy food and if this programme leads to a better physical, emotional and intellectual growth. A total of eight elementary schools of Movare take part in the project: two schools follow the whole programme including exercise and a healthy lunch, two schools have special attention for exercise, sports and culture, and four schools serve as controls.
Maastricht University has initiated the project in close collaboration with GGD Zuid Limburg. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lung diseases are more prevalent in the region in comparison to the average of the Netherlands. Also children in this region develop more chronical diseases, resulting in a decline in educational performance and social inequality. The provincial council of Limburg asked to take action to turn the tide. The ‘Healthy Elementary School of the Future’ is a logical answer to this request.
The project ‘Healthy Elementary School of the Future’ is an initiative of the Education Foundation Movare, GGD Zuid Limburg, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre +, in close collaboration with many private and public organisations. The costs of the project are estimated at approximately €20 million. The province of Limburg grants them €5 million in the context of the Knowledge-axis Limburg.
More information can be found on the website: www.degezondebasisschoolvandetoekomst.nl