Remember the giraffe in the van? Healthy Harold is coming back to school

Healthy Harold is returning to ACT Schools. Picture: Supplied by Life Education
Healthy Harold is returning to ACT Schools. Picture: Supplied by Life Education

Healthy Harold is returning to schools in the ACT and NSW after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Harold is back, the well-known Life Education vans will not be returning to schools until at least July.

Chief executive Jonathon Peatfield said Life Education had been working closely with the health and education departments in NSW and the ACT to ensure a safe return for Harold.

"We're excited to have Harold back, and to get back into the classroom," he said.

Mr Peatfield said the string of crises that had faced the ACT and NSW region could take a toll on the wellbeing of children.

"It's been a really difficult nine months," he said.

"Having bushfires, floods and drought, and now COVID-19, means there are a lot of challenges young people are facing that they haven't necessarily seen before."

Issues that can arise from these crises include being unable to engage in physical activity, isolation, stress and anxiety.

"The beauty of Life Education is that there's something that brings back normality to their day to day," Mr Peatfield said.

"We focus on really core social emotional and physical wellbeing.

"At the moment [it is] critical to make sure that young people are in the right headspace and can start to build back some confidence and they can get the right information about health challenges."

While Harold has been away from the classroom, Life Education has been busy behind the scenes.

During COVID-19 the organisation has created a suite of new online resources for children and parents.

"Schools can register for online content which provides three of our core modules around healthy eating, personal safety and cyber safety," Mr Peatfield said.

"There are also a whole lot of free resources for teaches and parents on our website."

At the moment [it is] critical to make sure that young people are in the right headspace and can start to build back some confidence and they can get the right information about health challenges.

Life Education chief executive Jonathon Peatfield

As well as the departure of the vans, more measures have been put into place to keep children safe.

"Educators have hand sanitiser and will do a complete clean before and after our sessions," Mr Peatfield said.

"We are working closely with schools to ensure we are working with school protocols."

This is in addition to maintaining physical distancing requirements.

About 50 to 60 per cent of schools in the ACT and NSW are involved in the program.

While Harold has returned to the classroom, schools can also opt for a virtual Life Education session.

"The time away from schools has allowed us to improve our training and development for educators," Mr Peatfield said.

"It has also given us the opportunity to explore new delivery options including online and virtual, which complement our offering to schools, ensuring we have the greatest impact on young people's health outcomes."

This story Remember the giraffe in the van? Healthy Harold is coming back to school first appeared on The Canberra Times.