Former school PE teacher and current Labor Member for Cessnock Clayton Barr said the benefits of lifelong learning had motivated him to join the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program coming to Cessnock next month.
The award-winning program is a partnership between Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute, the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community.
It is being rolled out in communities across the Upper Hunter Valley, and runs for seven sessions over 12 weeks, focusing on weight loss, healthy eating, and physical activity sessions designed to help dads and their children bond.
The father-of-four said his knowledge about food and nutrition had gone a bit “stale” since giving up teaching nine years ago and he was looking forward to reacquainting himself and learning new health information.
“While I do get around in the community as part of my job, I do spend a lot of time sitting in various meetings, having conversations with people, reading documents, and working at the computer,” Mr Barr said.
“It can lead to quite a sedentary lifestyle, which is why I joined the program – to help me kick start a better health and exercise regime to benefit both me and my family.”
Mr Barr said three of his four children would be taking part with him.
“Spending quality time with my family and on my health can be a challenge for me, and for many fathers in the area, particularly those who work shift hours.
“You only need to look around the town to see that obesity is a real issue and it will only get bigger if we don’t make our health a priority and implement some serious changes.
“This program gives local dads the opportunity to participate and access a health and wellbeing program that has been globally recognised as the best research in public health and policy.
“I strongly encourage more Cessnock fathers to sign up so they too can improve their health, spend more time with their children, and can be better role models for them.”
Healthy Dads Healthy Kidsprogram manager Dr Drew Miller said fathers played an important role in developing healthy nutrition and regular physical activity in young people.
“Children with an overweight father are four times as likely to be overweight at the age of 18,” Dr Miller said.
“Many men involved have improved several aspects of their health, such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, and their children are learning about and eating healthier food, as well as increasing their physical activity.”
Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment Stephen Sneddon said Coal & Allied was pleased to support the program and was encouraged by the results seen across the Upper Hunter so far.
“We are pleased to show our support by investing $525,000 over three years through our Coal & Allied Community Development Fund,” Mr Sneddon said.
“Since the program commenced last year, 155 fathers and 252 children have participated from theUpper Hunter Valley and more than 50 fathers and more than 70 children have participated fromNewcastle.
“Healthy Dads Healthy Kids has run in Newcastle, Scone, Maitland and twice in Singleton, and is making a significant and positive difference to the quality of life for many fathers and their families.
“It is currently running in Muswellbrook, and we look forward to seeing it in Cessnock next month.”
Families in the Upper Hunter interested in participating in the Cessnock program can contact Dr Drew Miller on 02 4921 6721 or email Andrew.Miller@newcastle.edu.au. Registrations close Friday 4 November 2011 with the program starting on Wednesday 16 November.