Workshops and mini Olympics of healthy nutrition in Donja Ilova

"I play and grow healthy": Children in the local branch of the Prnjavor kindergarten "Naša Radost" in Donja Ilova learned about a healthy diet through games and fun.

Almir Panjeta for UNICEF
Workshops and mini Olympics of healthy nutrition in Donja Ilova
05 November 2021

Little chefs from the youngest group of "Naša radost" kindergarten in Donja Ilova near Prnjavor were the first to take their position at the table where they immediately started "grilling" plastic vegetables, kneading dough cookies and learning how to peel a mandarine the easiest and fastest way. At the playground next to them, accompanied by the cheers of her friends, Nikolina was the first to drag a cart full of corn to the basket and pour it all out.

"It was hard, but also fun! Some of my corn fell out, but in the end, I succeeded!", she bragged to us.

In the second part of the spacious kindergarten yard, other disciplines of the Mini Olympics are underway: Walking on a rope with hidden tasks to which they respond, crossing the ground with hazelnuts, corn and chestnuts, jumping over obstacles, pumpkin rolling competition, searching for hidden carrots, collecting and sorting apples by the colours arranged on a “spider web” drawn on the lawn...

Small edible pieces of artwork are exhibited on one of the tables: A small train with a locomotive and wagons made of peppers with wheels made of cucumber rings stuffed with grapes, tangerines, bananas and carrots; displayed on plates are the shapes of lions and bunnies made of tangerines, pineapples, bananas and pomegranate seeds, and there are also pear hedgehogs with grapes on toothpick spines.

At other tables, children play guessing games, fruit dominoes, charades and other "brain games". It is especially lively with the fruit and vegetable "wheel of fortune" - a wheel with an arrow and numbers that tell the spinner what to eat from the bowl on which the arrow stops next:

"I like it best when it stops on a carrot. I like to eat carrots!", Says Matea, spins and - luckily, the arrow stops on her favourite vegetable. There is also Lenka who says that she also likes carrots the most, but also tangerines.

Danilo, who is here with his mother Mirjana, also participates in the games with enthusiasm:

“This was wonderful today.  We started coming here only recently, we come two days a week where he plays and hangs out with his peers, and three days we go to Banja Luka to the Centre for Rehabilitation of Hearing and Speech where we were regulars every day for a year and a half after which the doctor recommended to come here for two days. He fits in well, he has fun, he likes to hang out with children, there is no dialogue, no conversation, but it's good, the most important thing is that he is constantly involved in something, that he is doing something  that he is interested in."

We are attending the activity "I play and grow healthy" which is held in the local branch of the Prnjavor kindergarten "Naša Radost" in Donja Ilova. The workshop is one in a series of activities within the "Nutrition Friendly Preschool Initiative" implemented by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Republika Srpska, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska and the Public Health Institute of Republika Srpska with the support of UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On this occasion, the children from the central department in Prnjavor also came to visit their friends from Donja Ilova, for whom this is also an opportunity to learn about life in the countryside and to hang out with their peers.

Kuhanje Donja Ilova

Nedeljka Simić, better known among children as Aunt Neda, brought her group from the city to the workshop to spend a day in the countryside and meet their friends:

"We are one entity, one institution, and it is good for children to socialize and get to know each other. They are thrilled and we are already planning the next trip ", says Aunt Neda, adding that the children responded well to all tasks:

"We have already prepared with them, we have processed all these activities through our work so far, and we have introduced some new ones. The day here was interesting and fun for them and we learned something new".

Tanja Antunović, an educator in the local branch in Donja Ilova, says that she is very happy with the way the children responded to all the tasks:

"The most important thing is that the children are happy, they participated in all the activities that went great. There were no jitters, I believed in them, for them it was all a game, nothing we don't normally do. The emphasis is on a healthy diet, we have dealt with this topic before, and today they showed what they have learned. "

Nenad Preradović, one of the coaches of the Sports School "Prvi korak" Prnjavor, which has had very nice cooperation with the kindergarten "Naša radost", says that they try to convey some positive things to children and motivate them to engage in physical activities with a healthy diet:

"We motivate them to move as much as possible, to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I am satisfied with what I saw today, well done, colourful, a lot of healthy things, and through that, we implemented physical activities, the children got acquainted with a healthy diet, they are satisfied and smiling ".

In the kindergarten "Naša radost" they believe that the "Nutrition Friendly School / Preschool Initiative" (NFSPI) is of great importance for the improvement of their institution, which, they point out, was among the first in Republika Srpska (RS) to harmonize its menu with prescribed norms and participate in many projects related to proper nutrition and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. The activities we attended were organized to develop healthy life habits in children and increase awareness of the importance of timely work with children, emphasizing the importance and benefits of kindergarten activities in nature, all with experiential learning - a special method used to work with children to motivate them to make their conclusions and come to a solution.

"The children showed their skills, we had various activities, logical reasoning and thinking, I am very satisfied. In kindergarten, we apply this initiative from the very beginning, children are given regular healthy meals according to the menus prescribed by the Ministry, with changes following the seasons, and we take care of the nutritional values of these meals", says Vesna Malešević, graduate educator at PI kindergarten "Naša radost" Prnjavor and NTC lecturer.

Marijana Petrović Klokić, a teacher from the central department of the kindergarten in Prnjavor, emphasizes that the most important thing is that the children were relaxed, satisfied and that they went through all the activities without any tensions and pressure:

Djeca Donja Ilova
Djeca Vrtica Donja Ilova

"They were happy, they will remember this day and I think it is a great experience for them and they are very satisfied. It was important for me that they were relaxed, that everything was interesting to them, and the emphasis was on everything going through playing for them. "

Đorđe Kovačević, acting director of the Public Institution Kindergarten "Naša radost" says that everything was extremely nice and that it could be noticed that both the children and teachers enjoyed it:

"Children are the most important thing for us, and the most important thing for children is the first educational step that takes place in kindergartens. A healthy diet is a basis for the proper development of a child. All the activities we do are supported by both children and parents, especially activities related to a healthy diet, which the parents were especially willing to support and actively get involved in".

Nataša Cvijanović, Assistant Minister for Preschool Education at the Ministry of Education and Culture in RS, was also happy with what she saw at the workshop:

"We had the opportunity to see how educators implement their activities, how they encourage children to practice healthy lifestyles, and I hope that there will be opportunities in the foreseeable future to talk with parents who need to know through training what a healthy diet is and how much it is important ", she says, adding that it is not only the educational function that is carried out in preschool institutions:

"There is also a social and health care function. In addition to the process of education, preschool institutions are engaged in the promotion and implementation of a healthy diet and healthy lifestyles, "she said.

The mayor of Prnjavor at the meeting held before the workshop said that he was satisfied with the work of the kindergarten "Naša radost" and added that the municipality is available to help in the implementation of future projects:

"Kindergarten is an institution that has deserved every kind of compliments, both at the organizational and every other level for many years. We want to continue to develop the segment of preschool education in our local community, and this project supports that. "

In addition to the kindergarten "Naša radost" from Prnjavor, kindergartens from Derventa, Gradiška, Bijeljina and Nevesinje, and two primary schools from Trebinje are also participating in the third cycle of the NFSP initiative. The initiative started in 2014 to standardize nutrition in kindergartens.

"We had rulebooks dating from the former Yugoslavia, but the recommendations for the nutrition of preschool children were changed and the need arose for standardization of nutrition. The standardization of nutrition in all preschool institutions, both private and public, has started, and that part of the standards and norms along with the cookbook through the seasons has become an integral part of the rulebook proposed by the Ministry of Education and Culture and adopted by the RS Government in 2016 ", says Dragana Stojisavljević, coordinator of the NFSP Initiative at the RS Public Health Institute.