Free health program targeting toddlers arrives in Bunbury

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Deb Brealey will be one of the Toddler Better Health Program leaders.
Camera IconDeb Brealey will be one of the Toddler Better Health Program leaders. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Establishing a healthy lifestyle early will be the focus of a new program set to run in regional WA for the first time next month.

The Toddler Better Health Program runs for 10 weeks and targets children two to four years.

WA project manager Chris Vavakis said the company was excited to be able to bring the program to Bunbury for free, with support from the WA Country Health Service.

“We’ve been running a different version of the program for seven to 13 year-olds since 2014 but this will be the first time this toddler version of the program is running anywhere in WA,” he said.

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“That’s very exciting and we’re really hoping that locals will embrace it because we’ve had some fantastic outcomes in other areas where it has run outside of WA.

“We’re really encouraging people to register — it’s a free program but places are being filled quite fast.”

The 90-minute long sessions will be broken into three parts.

They will start with active play, then move onto activities aimed at trying to stop children from developing fussy eating habits before parents are targeted by behaviour-change advice sessions while the children engage in creative play.

“What we tend to find is that the eating habits of the parents will improve as well,” Mr Vavakis said.

“We want to develop good habits early and that two-to-four age range is really crucial to get into those habits really early.”

The program has run in Perth since 2014 and has been effective in reducing childhood overweight and obesity issues.

“In this age range, nutrition is vitally important because the children are growing rapidly,” he said.

“A lot of parents struggle with feeding their children because there is a lot of conflicting information out there and in the past, there has been a lack of services for this age group.”

Classes will run every Thursday morning from early February at Hudson Road Family Centre.

Families interested in participating can call 1300 822 953 or register online at www.betterhealthprogram.org.

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