BestStart Pukuatua Educare Centre has been celebrated for its healthy practices and achieved the Gold Healthy Heart Award awarded by the Heart Foundation.

Heart Foundation Rotorua nutrition advisor Catherine Ward says the centre has achieved the highest level of Healthy Heart Award – the Pa Harakeke level.

This means that they provide nutritious food to their tamariki, that they promote healthy eating and physical activity within the centre, and that they support their whānau and community with these.

She says the Heart Foundation has supported the centre to implement nutrition and physical activity policies and to put these into action at a gold standard.

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Catherine spoke to the children before presenting the award on Monday.

She discussed with the children what the size of their heart is and what things they do to keep their hearts healthy.

She then presented a certificate and blueberry plant to the centre.

The foundation's mascot Hearty also came along for the celebration, receiving many hugs and high-fives from the children.

"The work that BestStart Pukuatua has done in this area is definitely worth celebrating, so Hearty made a special trip today to see the tamariki, teachers and centre staff who have achieved this award."

BestStart Pukuatua is the first centre in the city to achieve the Gold Healthy Heart Award. Lake Ōkāreka Preschool was the first in the district.

Centre cook Roseanne Harris says it feels amazing to receive the award and that it has been a long journey.

Hearty receives plenty of hugs when arriving at the centre. Photo / Shauni James
Hearty receives plenty of hugs when arriving at the centre. Photo / Shauni James

She says at the centre they provide wholemeal flour, pasta, bread and lots of fruit and vegetables. The centre also grows vegetables in its gardens and has a worm farm.

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Roseanne says the children are learning how to look after gardens and to eat the food out of the garden.

The children help to gather food from the garden and feed the worms, she says.

■ Find more about the award at learnbyheart.org.nz or contact Catherine at the Rotorua branch of the Heart Foundation.