Entertaining and informative Child Health and Well-Being Event in Milford

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A pot of sweet potato soup bubbled merrily atop a portable burner as Donegal’s own Celebrity Chef Martin Anderson shared tips on how to get youngsters to eat healthy food.

“Don’t buy the stuff with the teddy bear face!” he urged parents during a Child Health and Well-Being Event at the Mulroy Woods Hotel in Milford last week. “How do they get the teddy bear’s face into the ham? It’s pumped in there with spam, it’s everything!”

Instead he demonstrated an alternative: take a wrap, moisten it with a bit of water, microwave it for 20 seconds (“you need a wee bit of water and a microwave, otherwise they fall apart”), place slices of ham and cheese on it, roll it into a tube, and cut the tube into 2-inch pieces.

“They’re wee ham and cheese ‘swiss rolls’…bite-sized pieces that are easy to eat,” Chef Anderson explained as a platter of samples was passed around the room. “You’ve got six of those in the lunch box with a piece of fruit, so all the child has to do is pick one up and say…’Ham and cheese again?’!”

Chef Anderson’s entertaining cookery demonstration capped off an informative evening of speakers and stands on a wide range of children’s health and well-being topics which was attended by about 40 area parents.

The event was jointly organised by members of the Fanad, Rosguill and Milford Primary Care Team, Mevagh Family Resource Centre, and the Mulroy Community Health Forum, with support provided by Donegal Local Development Company.

“It’s about bringing the community together, using a social inclusion model rather than a medical model to raise awareness of children’s health and well-being needs,” said Margaret McKeague, Development Officer at Mevagh Family Resource Centre.

“I felt there was a gap in promoting children’s development,” explained HSE Senior Speech and Language Therapist Siobhán Lynch, who both helped to organise and made a presentation at the event. “Rather than focus on acute or chronic issues, this event was made up of presentations informing parents about what to do early on.”

Additional health professionals who spoke at the event included Denise Gillespie, who offered advice on children’s sleep patterns; Sandra Ferry, who discussed child bed-wetting and constipation issues; Pat McDyer, who offered tips on children’s dental hygiene; and Pauline Hunter, who explained ways of supporting a child’s educational development.

A number of Donegal organisations which offer services and support to parents had information stands at the event, including Donegal Social Prescribing, the HSE, Lifestart, and Parentstop.

“I thought it was very good, very interesting…a lot of good wee tips,” Sinéad McDaid, a mum of three from Creeslough, said of the Thursday evening event.

“I found it very informative and enlightening,” said Bredagh McConigley, a mum of three from Portsalon. “You find yourself agreeing with one thing and thinking another mightn’t work. My boys eat fine, but there’s no harm getting some new ideas.”

“I thought it was excellent,” said Frances Hanley, a mum of three from Kerrykeel. “It’s wonderful to have everybody here in the one spot. I hope there are more events like this. It would be great in the future if we could bring our children…they’ll listen better to an outsider than they will to mum!”