The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme was initiated in 2009 to raise nutrition and health awareness and promote physical activity among school children around the world. In 2014, with the first Employee Volunteering Programme, Nestlé India employees were given a chance to experience first-hand the magic created during Magic Bus India Foundation’s Sport-for-Development (S4D) sessions. In the communities that Magic Bus works in, there is a lack of awareness among parents on the significant influence nutrition has on their children physical and cognitive development. Children attending Magic Bus sessions come from some of the most disadvantaged communities, where meeting basic food requirements is a daily struggle. They are vulnerable to malnutrition and its numerous consequences. In such an environment, it becomes critical to educate children on the importance of health and nutrition. With Magic Bus’ innovative and effective approach and activity-based curriculum, and Nestlé’s network and reach, the programme has strengthened considerably over the past four years and in 2019, is in the fifth year of its implementation.
In 2019, Nestlé India and Magic Bus will have touched the lives of over 200,000 children across 19 states with a programme designed to help them develop holistically, and lead healthier, more active lives. In a country that hosts over a third of the world’s malnourished children, the Nestle Healthy Kids Programme is a relevant programme, that focuses strongly on increasing nutrition awareness among children and their communities, improving food habits among children and young people and improving hygiene and physical activity among children and young people through its presence. Children (not more than 30 in each group) under the Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme are engaged in weekly S4D sessions spanning 60 minutes in community programmes and 45 minutes in schools. During these sessions their physical as well as Socio-Emotional Skills are developed and information in key areas is shared with them.
To support this, Magic Bus brings into play its structured Community Connect element that works in tandem with support/opportunity structures within the health and education systems at the community. This is achieved through regular meetings with teachers, health workers and community leaders; to keep them updated about Magic Bus activities. In addition to reinforcing key messages pertaining to health and nutrition, the vision is to develop skills of self-efficacy and resilience among children so they independently and permanently break the cycle of poverty.
Rizwan, a graduate of Government Senior Secondary School, Rana Basti, Jaipur, wanted to be a Community Youth Leader (CYL) ever since his first session as a child. An extremely popular and effective CYL since 2015, he has become known to his community as a support system. Inspired by this, his two older brothers have joined the program as CYLs too.
When asked about the changes he has seen in children he has worked with, he says “each one has changed.”
What he had seen change most was their “self-awareness, their genuine willingness to play in gender-inclusive groups, and their inclination towards better hygiene and nutrition.” Rana Basti community lacks fresh water supply and children are typically discouraged to bathe regularly. As a result of S4D sessions on health and hygiene, children and parents have a much-increased awareness on the spread of disease and the need to maintain certain standards of hygiene. The community comes together to better manage available water and children are seen washing their hands and bathing regularly.