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National recognition for Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program

Innovative education program Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids (HDHK) has been recognised with a 2014 national award for Best Community Engagement Collaboration.

The accolade comes from the Business/Higher Education Round Table and follows closely on the National Excellence in Obesity Prevention Award (2014) by the WHO Collaboration on Obesity Prevention.

The program was developed by Professor Philip Morgan and his team at the University of Newcastle’s School of Education. HDHK teaches dads to be positive-lifestyle role models. The result is improved physical activity levels and dietary behaviours for themselves and their children.

“During the program they come to understand the profound influence their parenting practices, actions, behaviours, and attitudes have on their children,” Professor Morgan said.

“This realisation becomes a driving force behind their motivation to get fit and become more engaged in their children’s lives.”

Evaluations of the trial program show fathers have achieved weight loss, reduced their waist circumferences, lowered their blood pressure, increased their physical activity levels, reduced their calorie intake and improved their overall diet. Children have increased their physical activity, reduced their resting heart rate and decreased their calorie intake.

The program’s success is attributable to the strong partnership between UON, industry sponsor Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the local schools and communities. Professor Morgan is deputy director at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

Coal & Allied Community Relations Manager, Shannon Garcia, said the continued recognition for Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids was testament to the positive difference the program makes to the quality of life for many fathers and families.

“For the past five years Coal & Allied has provided support to convert the University of Newcastle’s research into a community-owned model and ensure its sustainability. Funding for locals allows them to gain the skills and knowledge to assist with the program’s ongoing facilitation.

“We are encouraged to see our $600,000 investment through the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund has contributed to providing a sustainable program that delivers real results for our Upper Hunter Valley communities.”

More than 540 families including almost 1000 children have participated in the program to date. HDHK was first successfully piloted at UON in 2008-09. In 2010, Coal & Allied committed $524,453 over three years to evaluate the program in a community setting in five local government areas in the Hunter region. In 2014, the community implementation model has been developed further.

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