After consultation with its members, the Greater Monash GP Network decided to embark on an ambitious program designed to help parents make appropriate eating and lifestyle choices for their children. The first of its kind in Victoria, the program will be trialled in five local primary schools.
“Most parents are unaware that their behaviour might influence their children’s health and have important health implications later on in life,” said Kate Bolaffi, the organisation’s Healthy Families in Monash Project Officer. “Parents recognise the role that advertising or peer pressure plays in influencing their children’s eating habits, but forget the important fact that they can be a significant authority in setting and supporting strategies for better health.”
After consultation with local schools, Kate developed the template for a series of free workshops supported by a dedicated website to help families understand the key issues that operate within the home and how to modify behaviour.
The interactive website, www.healthyfamiliesmonash.org.au, was designed to support parents by reinforcing the messages presented at the workshops, and giving them additional tools to work with.
“Information is critical but it needs to be presented in an entertaining and user-friendly way if it is to resonate with parents,” Ms Bolaffi said. “We spent a lot of time developing the concept so that it would appeal to parents and assist them to make appropriate choices for their family.”
The centrepiece of the program is a series of four one-hour workshops. The first two workshops focus on nutrition. The 3rd and 4th workshops, which will be held in Term 3, will focus on physical activity and practical cooking skills.
The first two workshops are run by accredited dietitians from Monashlink Community Health Service. Every parent who attends is given free samples and resources, and there are prizes as well. Free childcare is available at each session.
There is also an opportunity for parents to ‘ask an expert’ via email on the website. The experts are Dr Massage who specialises in nutrition and weight loss and dietitians from Monashlink Community Health Service. This service extends the reach of the program to embrace families that have not participated in a workshop.
“The response from parents has been far better than we expected, and it points to a growing awareness that things must change if we are to build a generation of healthy people,” Ms Bolaffi said.
Further details are available from the website www.healthyfamiliesmonash.org.au