By Charles Nwaoguji
Mondelez International Foundation has invested over N18 billion to promote healthy lifestyle in the country.
The Director, Corporate and Government Affairs, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Bala Yesufu, who disclosed this at the groundbreaking ceremony of the nutrition and healthy lifestyle project, held recently in Lagos, said the project is part of the Mondelez International Foundation’s multi-year N18 billion commitment to promote healthy lifestyle and address obesity in 9 countries including Nigeria. Yesufu noted that the project is expected to run for period of 3 years from January 2018 to December 2020.
He said that Helen Keller International (HKI) in partnership with the Lagos State Government and funding from Mondelez International Foundation flagged off the school garden sites to bring attention to the importance of good food and nutrition as well as physical fitness in government primary schools and communities in Ikeja LGA, Lagos State.
He stated that the gardening activities will provide a platform for children to participate in school gardening thereby, helping them plant, weed and harvest nutritious crops.
“ A School Gardening and Health Club will be established, thereafter, to help maintain the gardens, promote nutrition and fitness activities and ongoing student participation,” he added. According to him, the Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle project aims to bring nutrition education, active play and fresh foods to underserved children and their families in Ikeja Lagos Government Area.
He explained that over the next three years, the Mondelez International Foundation will support Helen Keller International to inspire schools and communities to reach under-served children through innovative ways in Nigeria.
He noted that Helen Keller International will teach over 6,000 children in public primary schools, the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity and gardening through in-school and after-school activities.
“The project is also expected to have an estimated indirect of about48000 out of school children and their families over the next three years across the Community Development Areas (CDAs). The overall aim is geared towards creating school and community environments that encourage children and families to adopt lifelong healthy habits,” he added.
Speaking at the event the Country Director of Helen Keller International (HKI), Philomena Orji says “The new program is building on our commitment to help communities thrive and improve the well-being of school-age children and their families.”
She said the organization is currently conducts programs in Akwa-Ibom, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Kano, Katsina and the Lagos States.
She noted that Helen Keller International will track progress against a universal set of metrics that the Mondelez International Foundation will develop in collaboration with its community partners and a public health expert from Yale School of Public Health.
Metrics measure improvements in nutrition education, physical activity and access to nutritious foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
She explained that established in 1915, Helen Keller International (HKI) works to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged persons.
“ HKI combats the cause and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition,” she added.
Speaking in the same vein, the State Lead, Healthy Lifestyle Project, Helen Keller International, Olukemi Adeyoju said “when it comes to preventing malnutrition, we are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We are doing this in Lagos State through the Healthy Lifestyle Project in public primary schools to provide nutrition education, physical exercise through active play, and cultivate gardens for a quality diverse diet.”