DESPITE its humongous size—with a population of more than 8,000 students—Pedro Guevara Memorial National High School (PGMNHS) succeeded with its innovative health program that earned it the national championship in the recently concluded Nestlé Wellness Campus (NWC) competition.
This nutrition education-advocacy effort of Nestlé Phils., in partnership with the Department of Education, involves collaborative participation of students, their parents and other stakeholders to practice healthy habits in their daily lives. Now in its 10th year, NWC still focuses on health and wellness education among millions of Grade 1 to 10 public-school students to help address malnutrition in the Philippines.
According to data from the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s Expanded National Nutrition Survey 2018-2019, one in four, or 24.9 percent of school-aged kids, is stunted. Even if the pervasiveness of underweight children at this age group significantly dropped from 31.2 percent in 2015 to 25.5 percent in the latest ENNS, the number of overweight children increased from 8.5 percent to 10.4 percent during the same period in review.
“We recognize the importance of instilling the value of proper nutrition among students, especially at a young age,” Nestlé Phils. senior vice president and Corporate Affairs head Jose Uy III said, as he cited that PGMNHS’s triumph inspires them even more to be “a strong force for good.”
“It is important that we teach them these habits at an early age…to develop a good foundation [that they can bring with them until they grow up],” Uy added.
Backed by the Sta. Cruz, Laguna local government, PGMNHS has developed the “Healthy Buddy: Your Best Pal to Wellness” mobile application. This school-initiated project provides constant reminders to the students to help track their adoption of the “Seven Healthy Habits,” namely: Choose Nutritious and Varied Options, Manage Portions, Drink Water and Milk, Play Actively, Enjoy Meals Together, Keep Good Hygiene and Care for the Planet. In return, students were able to submit screenshots of their habits and reflections using the app to their teachers.
“The Healthy Buddy mobile app is in-line with our overall LIGHT [Let’s Ignite to Get Healthier and Tranquil] school objective in PGMNHS,” Dr. Reynaldo D. Villaluz, principal of PGMNHS, said of their entry that bested those of other 735 schools that joined in the contest from the seven participating regions.
Dr. Villaluz strongly believes that their students’ health the foundation of their success: “With the help of NWC’s Seven Healthy Habits, our students are guided and educated on health and wellness best practices that they can easily follow and live out both in school and at home.”
The school likewise launched its “Project Stop (Reduce), Ready (Reuse), and Go (Recycle)” campaign to teach and impart to students the proper ways of handling solid wastes at home, school or anywhere. With this initiative, they not only collected waste materials in the community, but also converted tetra packs as pots for vegetable seedlings and other plants. The creativity of some was also put into good use to come up with artificial decorative ornaments for their classrooms.
According to the principal, the food and beverage giant was impressed by ways the PGMNHS has been able to turn the Seven Healthy Habits of the NWC into creative yet practical efforts that can encourage other learning institutions to come together and help address the issue of malnutrition among students.
“As your ‘Kasambuhay’ for good, Nestlé Phils. will continue [enhancing and expanding the program…thus enabling] more children and their families to lead healthier, happier lives,” Uy III said.
To date the NWC has already reached out to more than 11 million students in 20,000-plus public schools nationwide. In addition to a library of modules, teacher lesson guides, student worksheets and other materials, interschool and interregional contests are held each academic year for the students to showcase their efforts in practicing the Seven Healthy Habits.
For this year’s competition, PGMNHS also emerged as the division champion in poster-making, cook off, and dancercise. Apart from being declared the division champion on NWC’s “Best Implementing School” competition, it subsequently emerged victorious at the Region 4A (Calabarzon) level for the high-school category and the national stage, respectively.