As we celebrate Men’s Health Week (11-17 June), the University of Newcastle, in partnership with Greater Charitable Foundation, proves to be ahead of the game when it comes to establishing a focus on men’s role in health and bringing it to the forefront of family interactions.
Greater Charitable Foundation funded Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads (HYHD), the University of Newcastle’s world-first, father-focused obesity prevention program for preschool-aged children led by Professor Philip Morgan and his team.
The underlying premise of the program is closely linked to the theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week “men and families: making healthy connections”, which explores the different ways families support the wellbeing of their male members.
This is the first internationally-recognised program that targets the father-child relationship to instil healthy eating behaviours, improved physical activity and quality of life in both fathers and their pre-school aged children, ultimately preventing obesity.
Scott O’Neill, 36, and his daughter Grace, 4, from Lambton are recent graduates of the program and gained a lot from their involvement in terms of father/daughter bonding and bringing the topic of health to the family agenda.
“I’ve always been quite an active bloke but never really focused on the importance of staying fit for my long-term health,” said Mr O’Neill.
“I enjoyed all aspects of the HYHD program; being involved with my youngster in such a hands-on way each week through spending quality time and being active was really rewarding and enjoyable”
“We both loved the weekly sessions and we’d aim to set aside time each day when I got home from work to do at least one of the take home activities from the program.
“Grace really got into it and I’ve seen a major improvement in her technique for a number of sport skills and a significant increase in her vegetable, fruit and water intake, which is the biggest motivator to keep me in check too.”
Greater Charitable Foundation will provide $350,000 to Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads (HYHD) over the next three years, which will enable 200 families to access the program, and make a real difference to the way men approach their health and set an example for the next generation.
Anne Long, CEO of the Greater Charitable Foundation, highlights the importance of the program and its work to strip the stigma surrounding men’s health and target it head on through creating an interactive and enjoyable experience.
“HYHD proves that the topic of health isn’t all doom and gloom. Too often we see health campaigns focused on scare tactics. Instead, this brings together families by encouraging participation in physical activities and education around certain lifestyle choices that ultimately lead to improved overall health for everyone involved,” said Ms Long.
“We are excited to be working with the University of Newcastle on such an innovative program that will have lasting, positive impacts on families all over the Hunter.”
Since 2011, Greater Charitable Foundation has committed more than $7 million in funding to more than 25 different charity partners throughout NSW and South East QLD.
For more information about the Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads program visit https://www.greater.com.au/charitable-foundation/partners/university-of-newcastle. Families who are interested in signing up for future programs can express their interest via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HYHDeoiRCT