Oke-Ira Primary School and Estate Primary school have emerged winners of Cooking Competition and Harvest fair respectively at the Harvest fair and Cooking Competition of the Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle project of Helen Keller International, HKI, an international Non-governmental organization.
Estate Primary School won a grand prize of 6 Set of Drum, Trumpet and Staff while Oke-Ira Primary school won the grand prize of two Printers. All the 9 participating schools received consolation prize of wheelbarrow per school and all pupils received water bottle and school bag each.
The competition which was organized by Helen Keller International in partnership with Lagos State Government and Support from Mondelez International Foundation owners of Cadbury Nigeria is the second edition of the Harvest Fair and Cooking Competition for the Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Project.
The nutrition and Healthy lifestyle project is one of the thematic focus area of HKI which seeks to tackle malnutrition among children.
Speaking about the competition, HKI’s Country Director, Philomena Orji said the main purpose of the competition is to educate the pupils on healthy lifestyle they ought to know before becoming adults which would definitely have positive effects on them and the society at large.
Orji, who was represented by Food Fortification Program Coordinator, Faith Ishaya, said “beyond the competition, this is going to educate the pupils on the healthy lifestyle they ought to know, often times, children are being given food without paying attention to the nutritional content of the food but we believe this will help the children to know the right nutritional content of the food they should eat.”
Speaking on the impact the project will have on the pupils, she said “once you empower a child with this knowledge, it doesn’t stop with the child, he/she relates this to friends and neighbors and inculcate same habit while raising his/her children later in future.
“So, beyond the harvest exhibition, cooking competition and prizes, it is going to achieve ripple effect because it will go beyond the schools. Once the information spreads, we will have a well-nourished nation and that is most important to us because at Helen keller International, our mission is to improve the health and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population.”
Ridwan Awosanya, HKI Lagos State team lead said the project has decided to capture pupils because healthy lifestyle is an attitudinal behaviour which should be inculcated in children at the early stage.
He explained that “we’ve tried to inculcate into these children the importance of healthy lifestyle, because the indicator for malnutrition in Nigeria is alarming, more than 40% Nigerian children are malnourished which is not really good for our economy projection and that’s the basic reason for our intervention.”
Awosanya said HKI has been making meaningful progress since the inception of the project towards addressing malnutrition in Nigeria. He added that, “between the last 18-20 months, we’ve trained over 250 teachers in Lagos State on Nutrition Education, Active Play and School Gardening; we’ve impacted the lives of over 6000 pupils in Ikeja local government area and at the community level, we’ve reached an estimate of about 35,000 pupils in Ojodu LCDA, Onigbongbo LCDA & Ikeja LGA.”
He added that the Parents forum, School Based Management Committee and Community Development Committees, CDCs have helped in reaching more pupils.
For his part, Fred Mordi, Corporate Affairs and Communications Manager, Cadbury Nigeria Plc., explained that the goal of the project is to “inculcate healthy eating habit in these children at a very young age so that when they grow up, it will be a part and parcel of them.”
“Our parent company, Mondelez launched this program last year as part of efforts to bring nutrition education to impoverished children in Nigeria and we’re using 9 public primary schools within our host community here in Lagos as pilot study.
“Among the objectives of the project is to teach children the importance of good nutrition, physical activity – exercise and gardening skills. We’re reaching over 6000 primary school pupils in those 9 public primary schools within our host community in this project.
“We’ve achieved a lot in terms of milestones and we’re quite happy with the progress we’ve made so far. This is the second year of the project and it’s supposed to be a three year project, but we’ve recorded huge success. There has been a whole lot of encouragement from the Lagos state government, they like what we are doing and there’s a possibility they may key into the project later in future”, Mordi added.
The colourful event had representatives from the Lagos State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ikeja Local Government Area, Community Development Associations and Parents.
Participating schools are; Ojodu Primary School 1, 2 & 3, Oke Ira Primary School, Ogba Primary School, Estate Primary School, Tokunbo Alli Primary School, Agidingbi Primary School and St. Peters Primary School, all within Ikeja Local Governent Area.