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Pettipas Taylor announces $5 million in funding for UpLift program

Federal Health Minister Ginette Pettipas Taylor and Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey talk to students (from left) Ava Baxter, Tristan O’Blenis, Jackson Gates, Lily Burke and Lauren Mosher at Amherst’s West Highlands Elementary on May 9 after the minister announced $5 million in funding for the UpLift program that promotes healthy eating and active living among students up to Grade 9 at approximately 360 Nova Scotia schools.
Federal Health Minister Ginette Pettipas Taylor and Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey talk to students (from left) Ava Baxter, Tristan O’Blenis, Jackson Gates, Lily Burke and Lauren Mosher at Amherst’s West Highlands Elementary on May 9 after the minister announced $5 million in funding for the UpLift program that promotes healthy eating and active living among students up to Grade 9 at approximately 360 Nova Scotia schools. - Darrell Cole

Partnership aimed at promoting healthy living among Nova Scotia’s youngest students

AMHERST, N.S. —

Kirk Rioux sees a healthier future for his students.

The principal at West Highlands Elementary in Amherst is excited his school, along with 359 others across the province, will be able to participate in a new partnership that aims to enhance the environments where children and youth learn, grow and play so they remain healthier as they age.

“It’s pretty exciting news, especially when you’re looking at more healthier food options for them as well as increased physical activity,” Rioux said.

Rioux said schools like his learn more about the program as it’s rolled out, but he’s looking forward to participating since healthier students are happy and more productive students who get more from their education.

His comments come after federal Health Minister Ginette Pettipas Taylor announced May 9 the Public Health Agency of Canada will be investing up to $5 million over five years in UpLift – an initiative to promote physical activity, healthy eating and wellbeing among Primary to Grade 9 students across the province by optimizing school community environments.

The initiative will be led by Dalhousie University in collaboration with provincial partners and schools.

“Active, healthy kids bring those good habits forward and being active is a great way to stay healthy and fight disease,” the minister told Grade 5 and 6 students and others at the announcement that was originally scheduled in January but postponed by bad weather. “If young people learn healthy habits they will carry them forward in life.”

Over the next five years, UpLift will reach up to 90,000 students at approximately 360 schools across the seven English regional centres for education, the Francophone provincial school board and schools within the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey school system.

“We know schools have a unique role to play in helping kids stay healthy, supported by parents and their community,” she said. “By working together we can all help each other live healthy and happy lives.”

Using the provincial Health Promoting Schools model, schools will continue to explore new policies and practices that improve students’ wellbeing, encourage physically active school communities and promote healthy food environments.

A key component of UpLift will be supporting students to become agents of change among their peers, leading by example, identifying solutions and helping implement actions that will contribute to healthy, vibrant, connected, safe and empowering school communities.

“This announcement represents a transformational opportunity for one of our most precious assets, the children and youth of our community,” said UpLift co-lead Dr. Sara Kirk from Dalhousie University’s Healthy Populations Institute. “Our UpLift partners recognize that when children and youth are nourished, active and engaged they learn better, achieve more academically and have better physical and mental health outcomes.”

UpLift, she said, is a catalyst to build on best practices already in place in schools across Nova Scotia.

She said the Chignecto-Central and South Shore regional centres for education will be first to adopt UpLift with the others to follow.

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