School children favourite Healthy Harold was in the mood to celebrate on Wednesday.
But the Life Education Australia (LEA) mascot had to share the love with Baxter the Duck at Warilla North Public School.
More than 150 students were on hand for the first ‘Healthy Mind, Healthy Body’ pilot project run by the University of Wollongong and LEA.
The program to encourage healthier life choices was held just a day after Education Minister Simon Birmingham threw Healthy Harold a lifeline, saying the Federal Government would continue to support LEA.
Senator Birmingham tweeted that the Government supports Healthy Harold and would ‘’work with Life Education Australia to ensure the funding & the program continues’’.
The Education Department had earlier stated the organisation had agreed to become self-sufficient by July 1 this year.
LEA is funded by private donors as well as federal and state governments, operating mobile classrooms that travel to schools and teach children to make safe choices about drugs and alcohol.
Before Senator Birmingham's announcement, LEA said it was given $500,000 in federal funding for the 2016/17 financial year.
News the Healthy Harold program funding would not be stripped was welcomed by Warilla North Public School teacher Regan Tweddle.
‘’We are very lucky here that we get the program for free thanks to the University of Wollongong,’’ Ms Tweddle said. ‘’It is a very important program. Kids love it. They love going into the Life Education van and enjoying all those fantastic interactive activities.’’
UOW outreach pathways and co-curricula manager Kylie Austin was also pleased with the positive outcome.
‘’We think Healthy Harold is such a valuable program from the university's perspective because it is so important to make healthy lifestyle choices to be able to engage in education positively,’’ she said.
‘’That’s why we’ve formed a partnership with Life Education Illawarra to run the Healthy Harold program to schools in the Illawarra at no costs to the students or parents. We are also running complimentary workshops aligning to the ‘Healthy Minds, Health Bodies’ Education Week theme.’’
UOW’s Baxter the Duck was also on hand giving students free healthy lunches.