Michael Matheson MSP is to visit Forth Valley Sensory Centre today (Monday 2 September) to find out more about how two local charities have linked up to help encourage healthy eating and awareness of sensory conditions amongst local children.

Forth Environment Link and Forth Valley Sensory Centre have joined forces to create a ‘Flavour School’ thanks to funding from Falkirk Council and the Central Scotland Green Network Fund.

The school has already had its first cohort of graduates, a group of six deaf children from Windsor Park School who attended ‘classes’ over the summer holiday.

The project helps children explore food through the lens of their five senses, as Emily Harvey of Forth Environment explains: “We talked about different senses and flavours i.e. why do some people like sour things and others sweet? We also looked at how food colour alters our perceptions of taste. For example, the kids were convinced that the plain yogurt they were eating was banana flavoured despite the only addition being yellow food colouring! The focus of the lessons is very much on how everyone is different and how some people perceive the world in different ways. By the end of the classes we noticed changes in the variety of the food the children were eating, especially more fruit and veg. As well as helping to develop their palates, the classes also helped them to increase literacy relating to food.”

After the successful summer pilot, children from across Falkirk will be invited to the Centre to learn more about eating healthy and sensory conditions throughout the school year.

Jacquie Winning, Forth Valley Sensory Centre Manager said: “Encouraging children to eat healthily is incredibly important in helping lower instances of preventable sensory loss such as diabetic retinopathy which can be caused by Type 2 diabetes. It is also important to educate young people about sensory loss. Encouraging understanding that not everyone sees or hears the world in the same way helps build a more tolerant society.”

The Falkirk project was inspired by the UK Flavour School, which helps schools and nurseries to embed sensory food education, inspiring children to explore food with all their senses, as a foundation for healthier, happier relationships with food.