Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs
Food and Nutrition expert Dr Carin Napier has participated in a SANPAD-funded research project of the Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods. SANPAD is a South Africa-Netherlands Research Collaboration. She lectures in the Department of Food and Nutrition Consumer Science at Durban University of Technology (DUT).
The project involved the development of nutrition education material for pre-school and primary school children, namely an activity book that the teachers can use to guide the learners through a number of learning outcomes and activities, as well as supplementary tools such as a food group puzzle, card games and board games to teach the learners the basic concepts of nutrition in a fun and creative way. The material developed is in the process of being patented and will be available to institutions that may need nutrition education material as part of their education programme. The Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods at the Vaal University of Technology is headed by Prof WH Oldewage-Theron, who is also a consulting Professor and Supervisor to Post Graduate students at DUT.
Dr Napier was commissioned by Prof Oldewage-Theron three years ago to develop the workbooks, a set of little books and games for nutrition education material to be used in teaching pre-primary and primary school learners the nutritious foods to eat. The teacher is expected to work through the workbook with the learners while the games serve as supplementary material. “We often do not teach our children how important it is to eat from each food group to live a healthy life. When giving our children tuck-shop money we must encourage them to at least buy an apple, instead of a packet of chips,” says Dr Napier. She emphasized that it is important to educate children about correct nutrition at an early age. She has applied her academic creative mind to create educational messages that she wants to put across. She is confident that her ideas will achieve its intended goals as the messages and drawings have been tested for accuracy and understanding by children. The material has also been shown to improve the nutritional knowledge of children.
As part of a contribution to community involvement, Dr Napier has developed placemats for a children’s home in Durban. Children will read the placemat while eating their meals and hopefully learn good nutritional habits while doing so. The placemats are in the process of being tested for effectiveness and to see if any learning takes place. In line with the Department’s niche area of community nutrition, “we determine the nutritional status and eating patterns of a community. Then identify the needs and develop a solution as part of an intervention,” says Dr Napier. She says she believes in empowering people with knowledge, adding that this allows them to make informed choices when choosing meals although this does not mean that they will make the healthy choice”.
For more information contact Bhekani Dlamini on 031 3737 2845 to facilitate the interview.