Representatives from Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities, such as Crèche principals and members of the George community, on 17 October, benefited from an ECD Programme presented by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) at the Conville Civic Centre in George.
The initiative aimed to discuss the importance of daily practices that would be of benefit to a child and to ensure that the parents and ECD practitioners instill the correct values in the child’s life. For this reason, Ms Jacoleen Fred, Health Promoter at the Western Cape Department of Health, presented the first 1000 days of a child’s life from the period of conception. Listening to every aspect shared at the event, it became clear that every activity during this 1000 day period has an effect on the mental and physical health and development of a child, e.g. how one talk the child and what one say to them, immunisation and also how the habits and activities of the parent or caretakers influence the child over the long run. Ms Fred also stressed her concern about the toxic habit of using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy and the undesired impact it will have on babies and their future. She therefore advised that love and affection is key to raise a healthy child and one example thereof is to play with a child. “This provides the opportunity for expressing love and care, communicating, building relationships and problem solving,” she said.
Ms Chrystal Smith from Klein Karoo Resource Centre which handles the registrations on behalf of Department of Social Development, spoke about the importance of the registration of ECD facilities and that they are committed to help ensure that all crèches in the Garden Route area become registered. For more information contact Ms Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org / tel: 044 272 7802.
Ms Jessica Erasmus, GRDM EHP at the George office spoke about the Health and Hygiene requirements of childcare facilities and educated all present regarding the Health Certificate which is a must for anyone running an ECD facility.
She furthermore emphasized that health and hygiene habits are important for all ages, more so in settings where children who are in diapers and are very young, are cared for. She stated: “Good health and hygiene practices, can help to reduce the spread of germs and prevent children and caregivers from contracting diseases”. She also explained that an ECD facility should be designed, built and equipped in manner that proper care is given to a child and also to protect children from any public health hazard, risk or public nuisance. “For every children 0 – 24 months they need 2m2 each, children aged 2 – 7 years need 1,5m2 each and the outside space per child, regardless of age is 2m2” and she added: “These requirements are to help allow the children to move around and have space to develop”. She also shared the importance of a valid Certificate of Acceptability which is a legislative requirement for all premises who prepare and serve food. The certificate is issued by an EHP, to the effect that the premises comply with the Environmental Health regulations.
During her presentation with regard to food safety and personal hygiene, Ms Sive Mkuta, EHP at GRDM, presented the five keys to safer food and invited two volunteers from the audience to each prepare a sandwich within five minutes. Before and during the preparation, she asked the audience to carefully look at how the sandwiches were prepared and subsequently asked them to identify any mistakes that were made during the preparation. The audience then responded that one of the ladies’ hair was not properly covered and that she did not wear gloves. It is important that all these factors are applied during the preparation of food, specifically at ECD facilities. Other topics that were presented during the session include: fire safety at ECD facilities, town planning requirements as well as how to reduce waste, reuse waste and the recycling of waste.
Ms Ivy Mamegwa (EHP), on behalf of GRDM, shared a word a gratitude to all representatives who participated and attended the event, including the representatives from the Western Cape Department of Health, George Municipality, Klein Karoo Resource Centre, principals and caretakers of ECD facilities and members of the community.
A total of 150 representatives, including principals of crèches and caretakers, as well as members from the community were in attendance. Attendees found the topics very helpful in their journey to make a difference in the life of each child in their care.