National Award

Pre-school Services Receive National Award

Staff from Askea Community Childcare Centre in Carlow were honoured at a national Healthy Ireland award ceremony held recently in Mullingar by the HSE and the National Childhood Network (NCN). The award recognises pre-school services that participated in the HSEs Healthy Ireland Smart Start programme delivered by NCN. The award acknowledges the role and influence the pre-school setting has in promoting children’s health and well-being.

Veronica Doran and Edel McGrath represented all the staff from Askea Community
Childcare Centre to receive the award on 14th September 2019 in Bloomfeild House Hotel,
Mullingar Co. Westmeath.


The Healthy Ireland Smart Start Programme is built upon the Government’s Healthy Ireland strategic framework and was developed by the HSEs Health and Wellbeing Division.

The focus of the programme is building the capacity of staff in the pre-school sector to encourage the adoption of positive health behaviours in children from as early an age as possible.

The programme is specifically designed for pre-school children aged between 3-5 years and encompasses all aspects of a healthy lifestyle: nutrition & healthy eating, oral health, physical activity, emotional well-being and health and safety. To date, training for the programme has been delivered nationwide to over 1,300 pre-school services.

To date 625 services have received the award for full implementation of the programme into the preschool setting. In describing the initiative, Orla Mc Gowan, HSE said “The Healthy Ireland Pre-school award has been very positively received by parents and pre-school providers. We know how important early intervention is in ensuring that our children develop healthy, well-balanced lifestyles. We know that lifelong behaviours are established early in life and so our work with the pre-school sector is vitally important”.

Speaking also on behalf of the HSE, Programme Co-ordinator, Kathryn Meade, praised the high quality of the evidence submitted by services to the Healthy Ireland Validation Panel, using the new self-assessment/validation process which demonstrates the implementation of the programme into practice.

Denise McCormilla, CEO, NCN said, “The pre-school sector has an invaluable role to play in promoting our children’s health and well-being and this programme provides them with the know-how and resources to be able to do so very effectively.

The programme delivers year on year – once staff are trained they can continue to deliver each year to new cohorts of children”. NCN is currently organising the sixth national rollout of the programme. Services in thirteen counties will have the opportunity to participate in the autumn term. For further details visit, contact NCN on 047 72469 or email