BY PAUL HERRIDGE
The Southern Gazette
For the first time, education services are being offered outside the St. John’s metro area, through a partnership with Burin Peninsula Brighter Futures and the Smallwood Crescent Community Centre in Marystown.
Anne Wareham, a psychologist and program lead, said ‘Good Health for EveryBody’ is a program for parents of preschool children.
It aims to help children eat well, be active and feel good about themselves, in an effort to decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases as they get older.
“It seemed like the best way to start – not necessarily to finish – was with the preschool populations.”
The pilot project is the result of a funding increase from the provincial government that came with a directive to reach into rural areas.
The Janeway Lifestyle Program’s team of interdisciplinary professionals works with families whose children have been identified as having a risk factor for high cholesterol and blood sugars, high blood pressure, liver disease and weight concerns, among other potential health issues.
Ms. Wareham said the two local organizations jumped at the idea to be the initial site for expansion, when representatives of the team were in Marystown to conduct focus groups last year with parents and health professionals.
She suggested the enthusiasm expressed was a good sign and the pilot progressed from there.
“We were really choosy, very careful, where you go first, because its very important in terms of evolution, as well, because basically what happens here will really inform any changes we make.
“We wanted to make sure that wherever we went first was a good spot, which there’s no doubt. The families are lovely, they’re just wonderful.”
She was referring to the 12 parents involved in the first session.
Earlier this month, Shelley Farrell, the family support facilitator for Brighter Futures in Marystown-Burin, and Smallwood Crescent Community Centre program coordinator Rhonda Emberley were trained to facilitate the program.
The sessions will be held for two hours each Monday over six weeks.
The Janeway Lifestyle Program team has developed a training manual, videos and other tools to provide support on an ongoing basis.
Brenda Sheppard, executive director of Burin Peninsula Brighter Futures, suggested the program is a great fit for the organization’s mandate.
“We’re all about promoting the health and well being of children and their families.
“We already work with the families, offering parenting programs and child centre programs, so this becomes part of that. It enriches what we’re already offering, and the educational and information part of it is right up there.”