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WFP nutritionist Vardanush Petrosyan told the First Public TV Channel of Armenia about the campaign «Make the most of your day»

In March this year, WFP launched the «Make the most of your day» campaign for schoolchildren. The campaign aims to encourage children to eat breakfast every day.

What is the campaign about?
In theory, everybody knows that breakfast is an important meal that you cannot skip. However, in reality not all people can claim of having breakfast regularly.

With this campaign, WFP seeks to change the habits and behaviours of the majority of Armenians. The key word here is “to change” the behaviour, especially the behaviour of children. Therefore, the programme is not based on the learning itself, but rather on influencing by appealing to people’s emotions through games and fun activities. This way children are more likely to change their behaviour and follow healthy habits. The first healthy food habit that WFP and its key partners - the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Health - decided to focus on is breakfast.

Not all parents fully comprehend that by skipping breakfast, children are deprived of the opportunity to reach their potential during the day. Breakfast helps child learn more efficiently, memorize new lesson material faster and get good grades. Therefore, it contributes positively to a child's overall development.

The Campaign slogan: «Make the most of your day» was chosen, because it is essential that you change your life for the better here and now, with no excuses.

The Campaign started from Kotayk marz. For two months, in four schools of the region1-4 grade students participated in interactive games and activities. They learned that healthy breakfast can be tasty and does not take too much time to prepare it.

For instance, something as simple as cheese sandwich is considered a good breakfast. «Indeed, very often, our children do not even eat that, and our research shows that a very large percentage of children skip breakfast, and an even larger percentage of parents,» says Vardanush. If in the case of adults, they damage their health, in the case of children - they will not get all the necessary nutrients for healthy development. Recent studies have shown that by skipping breakfast and not getting all the necessary nutrients in the morning, people tend to eat more unhealthy foods during the day. This is especially true for schoolchildren who are more likely to snack between classes.

Why primary school students?
The target audience of the campaign are1-4 grade schoolchildren, because it is much easier to influence the eating habits at a younger age than, for example, when they are adolescents. Also, the campaign goes in line with WFP recent projects that have been focusing on primary school students for many years and have provided them with hot meals almost all over the country as part of the School Feeding Programme.

So what about teenagers?
«There are also many effective ways of working with teenagers. For example, you can engage them by offering to prepare breakfast together or going to a grocery store, most of the time it works,» says Vardanush.

Influencers are their role models, and many adolescents try to imitate them nowadays. Therefore, influencer-moms were involved in the project, who, together with their children, participated in a contest and prepared easy and quick breakfasts with foods they had at hand. As the main reason for not having breakfast is precisely the lack of time. At the end of the campaign, all the recipes of the contest will be published in a cookbook.

How is the campaign organised?
Breakfast trackers are displayed on the walls of all classrooms. Every morning, children who ate breakfast shadowed the boxes that had their names. Children were so enthusiastic about it that they came up with the idea to start a journal where they drew their breakfasts.

«Our goal is to help mothers to make their work easier, and to give children the opportunity to be responsible for their own breakfast. Our latest research has shown that in Armenian families, children themselves decide what they want to eat and even what the whole family will eat. Parents go along with it,» - Vardanush notes.

In April, different activities were organized for children in four schools of Kotayk marz. The children really enjoyed themselves . «I received a letter from one of the parents, it said that the next day after the event, the child did exercises in the morning and asked to cook breakfast, because Carrot, one of the characters from the play, had asked for it. If we introduce these healthy habits into children's lives now, then there is a high possibility that they will remain in their lives forever,» says the nutritionist.

In May, WFP and SIFI carried out an online contest for high school students in two schools of Kotayk marz. During the whole week, children got acquainted with very interesting topics, such as, the difference between hunger and appetite, recipes for simple, quick and tasty breakfast, etc.

Meanwhile, the younger schoolchildren participated in a quest on the breakfast topic, which was directed by their parents at home using materials developed by WFP and SIFI. It is very important to apply more games when working with children, and less boring and repetitive exercises.

Also, kids will be receiving breakfast every week at one of the schools. A special bright and branded truck will be bringing breakfasts to school. So far, only one school is involved in this project. This is a kind of a test-project in order to understand which activities are more effective.
This pilot project is being implemented so far only in Kotayk marz. If the campaign turns out to be highly successful, then it will be extended to the whole Armenia starting from September.

Based on the materials of the Good Morning program of the First Public TV Channel of Armenia