With Covid restrictions easing, the Healthy Kids Bus Stop is back on the road and recently welcomed 55 children onboard during its first stop for 2022 in West Wyalong.
In a co-ordinated four-day long effort, the Healthy Kids Bus Stop team worked with local health, education, industry, and community groups to make the visit a great success.
Commencing on 14 February, children were assessed for speech and language development, oral health, food and nutrition, and fine and gross motor skills development. A total of 206 individual assessments were completed, with 40 children given referrals in one or more areas.
Healthy Kids Bus Stop is an integrated ‘whole of child’ health and developmental assessment and pathway-to-care program. It improves the health and wellbeing of children living in rural and remote communities through early detection of lifestyle risk factors, delayed development and/or illness. Since 2014, it has screened almost 4,000 children.
Glenys Haworth, Royal Far West’s West Wyalong Branch Secretary, said Healthy Kids Bus Stop is vital in identifying areas of concern, but also assists to address them with referrals to appropriate professionals.
“By detecting and addressing any issues prior to starting school each child can confidently commence school ready to engage and be able to learn more effectively,” Glenys said.
The collaborative effort was delivered in partnership with the Bland Shire Council, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Griffith Community Oral Health Service, Hearing Australia, Intereach, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Royal Far West.
This Healthy Kids Bus Stop visit would not have been possible without major sponsorships from the Bland Shire Council via the “Strengthening Communities Grant” of $18,750, and The Evolution Cowal Gold Fundraising Committee donation of $15,000.
The West Wyalong Branch of Royal Far West also gratefully received a “People of Post” grant of $500. This provided fresh lunches and beverages across the four days for the ten visiting health professionals and accompanying Royal Far West staff.
Although The Healthy Kids Bus Stop Program is a free service for participating preschool aged children and their families, the actual investment is approximately $600 per child.
Craig Sutton, Bland Shire Council Community Relations Officer extended a huge thank you to everyone involved in delivering the service to the Bland Shire community.
“The report sent through by Royal Far West’s Mr John Reid clearly demonstrates the value of this service to young people and their families. It will literally change so many lives. Bland Shire Council was delighted to be able to financially support this program but the true-blue local heroes were Glenys Haworth and the amazing members of Royal Far West’s West Wyalong branch,” Craig said.
As one parent expressed, she just could not afford the time or expense to try and source some of these assessments through the regular avenues in Wagga or elsewhere.
More than 180,000 children across rural and remote Australia need support for their developmental health and future wellbeing, yet cannot access support because of where they live. Limited access to services, long waiting lists and long distances to travel add to the problem. Access to the right support at the right time can positively reset a child’s life trajectory.
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