Stronger Culture, Healthier Lifestyles
Stronger Cultures, Healthier Lifestyles looks at the development of an afterschool cultural and activity program for Aboriginal children living in disadvantaged areas of the Shoalhaven.
The health disparity and social disadvantage between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in NSW is a major public health concern.
Compared with their non-Aboriginal peers, Aboriginal children aged 5-16 years are 1.4 times more likely to be overweight or obese, exceed screen time recommendations on weekdays and engage in unhealthy eating habits.
This project offers a unique after-school program that encourages Aboriginal children to connect with their culture and focuses on using culturally relevant activities chosen by the local Aboriginal community to promote healthy lifestyles and educational outcomes.
“This is the first program of its kind where connection to culture is the focal point to improve children’s healthy lifestyle behaviours and build confidence in who they are.” says Chief Investigator, Dr Rebecca Stanley.
This multi-component afterschool program brings together researchers in social sciences, health sciences and humanities and social inquiry (specifically Indigenous studies) to transform lives of Aboriginal children living in disadvantaged areas of the Illawarra region in a positive and motivating way.
Dr Rebecca Stanley is a Post-doctoral Fellow funded through a NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowship in the Early Start Research Institute, within the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her current research focuses on children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour and developing and testing culturally appropriate practices in afterschool settings to support all children to develop healthier lifestyles. She will contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of the program and consult with local Aboriginal communities and children.
Dr Anthony McKnight is an Awabakal, Gumaroi and Yuin Man and is in the School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences. His research focuses on the importance of Aboriginal Country in Aboriginal knowledge systems and processes in teacher education and research. Dr McKnight’s role will be to advise on appropriate cultural practices and assist with interpretation of research outcomes.
Dr Yasmine Probst is an NHMRC TRIP Senior Research Fellow of the School of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health. Her research focuses on dietary assessment methodology and food composition and the application of technology to such processes. Dr Probst’s role in the team will be to advise on dietary assessment, healthy snack choices and to supervise the dietetic honours student.
Sarah Ryan is the project manager and research assistant on the project. She completed her Honours with the project exploring food intake among Aboriginal children in the context of the afterschool cultural program. Her research interest is in food security in Aboriginal communities and understanding the relationship between cultural connectedness and healthy eating.
Professor Tony Okely is a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Director of Research in Early Start. His current research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and motor skill development in children aged 0-12 years. He has over 12 years experience in designing, implementing and evaluating school and community-based interventions. Prof Okely will advise on the development and evalaution of the afterschool cultural program.