Opening Remarks by Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, at the 2nd CHERISH Award Ceremony 2010 on Wednesday, 30 June 2010, at 9.00am at Agora Hall, Republic Polytechnic
Mr Lam Pin Woon
Chief Executive Officer, Health Promotion Board
Mdm Low Khah Gek
Director, Curriculum Planning & Development Division, Ministry of Education
Dr K Vijaya
Director, Youth Health Division, Health Promotion Board
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Making the Transformation for Better Health
The CHERISH Award recognises schools with comprehensive programmes and collaborative partnerships with the community to promote the health and well-being of students and members of their staff. I am pleased that a total of 335 schools (94% of all schools) participated in the Joint HPB-MOE CHERISH Award for 2010. 12 schools are Platinum Award winners and a further 27 schools have won Gold Award. We also have 157 Silver Award recipients and 121 who receive the Bronze Award. My heartiest congratulations to all of you!
Schools have embraced the essential element of health promotion which is to enable individuals to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their own health. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the determinants of health are: the social and economic environment, the physical environment and the individual’s characteristics and behaviour. This is the essence of the 1986 WHO’s Ottawa Charter, which has broadened the approach to health promotion. Schools have evolved from focusing primarily on individual knowledge and behavioural change in their health promotion efforts to community capacity building, empowerment, and policy change. I commend all the schools for successfully effecting a different approach to achieve greater impact and sustainability.
Success Factors for Sustainable Health Promotion Efforts
There are 4 main success factors that the award-winning schools have in common.
The school leaders of award-winning schools firmly believe that ‘a healthy body and mind’ is the precursor for the holistic development of their students. Hence high priority has been given to health and well-being programmes. Canberra Secondary School, is a Sustained Achievement Platinum Award winner. The school leaders and key personnel ‘walked the talk’ by participating actively in the various health promotion programmes. They even adopted the role of health ambassadors by influencing North 7 school cluster to adopt a cluster approach to Health Promotion. They have organised a study trip on Health Promotion in Hong Kong Schools for the N7 cluster and the “Good Health, Great Living @ N7” Health Conference for schools.
Another common feature of the award-winning schools is their strategy of providing opportunities for students to take ownership of the schools’ health promotion programmes. In Rivervale Primary School, 390 P3 students conducted research on health and became advocates of health to their peers.
Parents are invited to share in the school’s responsibility of promoting health among our students. Parents can play different roles. In Rivervale Primary School, parent volunteers monitor the food sold in the canteen and help conduct physical activities during recess. At Tanjong Katong Secondary School, the Parent Support Group (PSG) runs the After School Student Care Services and a dedicated health promotion programme for other parents. At Pioneer Junior College, a special Parents Forum was organised. Parent volunteers at Pioneer Junior College also help as facilitators for the college’s various Health Promotion activities. It is most heartening to have parents and schools working together in this manner towards the shared goal of nurturing a healthy new generation.
Fourth—Partnership and Outreach to the Community
Schools recognise the need to reach out to the wider community to harness external expertise as well as to extend their health promotion efforts. I am very glad to see students and teachers doing their part in promoting health within the community. Students and members of staff from River Valley Primary School (RVPS) have collaborated with Tanglin-Cairnhill Constituency on their Walk-a-Jog since 2007. The Health Promotion Board also supports schools with various health promotion programmes and resources such as display panels on health and the School Health Promotion Grant.
The data tell us that we all need regular reminders about the importance of taking care of our health. The 2004 National Health Survey revealed that adult obesity had increased from 5.1% in 1992 to 6.9% in 2004. MOH reported in the June 2008 issue of Electronic Healthscope that 1 in 4 adult Singaporeans would contract at least one chronic disease such as Diabetes, Hypertension or High Blood Cholesterol. Thus it is important that health organisations, Community Development Councils (CDCs) and schools work together to help more Singaporeans adopt healthy lifestyles.
Reaching out for Health
In his 2009 National Day Rally Speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised the issue of an ageing population and that the need for more health care resources would increase the government’s healthcare budget. He stated that the best way to keep healthcare costs down is for all Singaporeans to maintain healthy lifestyles. Schools have begun to lay the groundwork for our students by equipping them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to live a healthy lifestyle.
HPB has taken this a step further by promoting Health in pre-schools and encouraging parents to inculcate healthy habits at a young age. HPB has piloted CHERISH Junior in 15 pre-schools in 2009 and has extended it to all the pre-schools this year. We hope our children continue with these good health habits in their adult life. We also hope the entire Singapore community will stay active and healthy.
With the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG), our schools have the opportunity to touch hands, minds and hearts with the global community and spread the message of health to all. Let’s seize this and other opportunities to continue to build a brighter and healthier future for everyone.