Early learning centre and top chef combat childhood obesity
Obesity in young children within Australia is a rising concern, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting that as many as one in four children will be overweight or obese by the age of five. The upshot of this is that overweight or obese children are more likely to develop chronic disease at an older age, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Paisley Park Early Learning Centre, together with chef and host of The Living Room, Miguel Maestre, are tackling the issue through their 20 centres across Australia that practice innovative techniques to teach healthy eating habits and encouraging positive relationships with food from a preschool age.
From the outset, children are given the opportunity to experience healthy food options from the start by actively planting, growing and picking vegetables and herbs which are then used in recipes. Children are also encouraged to prepare and cook food, use real crockery and utensils at all meal times, taste meals of different cuisines and be seated at a table away from play areas with other children to foster social conversations over a nutritious meal.
Peter Raue says the idea for Paisley Park, which he co-founded with his friend Kat Wiezorek-Ghisso, came soon after his son, Oskar, was born, when he himself was working in childcare. “When Oskar when very young – around one or two – he went to a centre where the staff were very nice, but the focus was more on child-minding than education, and the environment was a converted house, which was not great for challenging him.
“I always thought that it could be done better, with a focus on learning and education in a purpose built environment that encourages enquiry and discovery.”
Also a dad, Miguel is an advocate for healthy eating among children. “I know that healthy eating habits start early on, so it is vital we involve our children with wholesome, fresh and diverse dishes. Healthy eating is more than just the food you eat, it’s about education. Through my partnership with Paisley Park Early Learning Centres we are providing children with the opportunity to be exposed to new tastes and flavours, as well be part of the cooking process.”
Peter on being a dad:
“My boys are, and will always be, my greatest achievement, notwithstanding that they are a constant work in progress. Being a parent is the hardest challenge in life, and trying to find a balance is always difficult.
“I don’t necessarily think I have always done the best job as a dad, and I constantly strive to improve. There is no manual, and there is no point having one anyway because every child is different! It is constant learning and adapting and evaluating what you do and whether you can improve on that.
“Both my boys are different and I try to adjust for that based on their individual personalities, but I know that despite their different paths in life they have been given the best preparation possible. I will always be there for my boys however I can, and however they need me to be there. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.”
Privately owned and operated, Paisley Park operates 20 centres in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.