“The Janeway Lifestyle Program was an excellent opportunity to gain further knowledge into a healthier life style.”
So says Jackie Francis, mother of Alexander Francis, and one of 12 parents who completed the Good Health for EveryBODY (GHEB) program on the Burin Peninsula, where, in October 2013, Eastern Health’s Janeway Lifestyle Program expanded the preschool parent program.
“Being a nurse you would think that I would have the required knowledge,” says Jackie. “But there were many things that I learned through this program.”
The program is designed to help children from a young age develop healthy lifetime habits, given that Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the highest rates of chronic diseases – such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease – in the country.
The Janeway Lifestyle Program (JLP) has already worked for several years with families in and around St. John’s through clinics and group sessions to help children identified with a risk factor for the development of a chronic disease.
According to Dr. Tracey Bridger, an endocrinologist and Medical Director of the Janeway Lifestyle Program, preventing chronic diseases needs to begin early in childhood, even before risk factors such as high blood sugars, become identified.
“We know that when healthy changes are made in the preschool years, we can delay or prevent the onset of many chronic diseases,” Dr. Bridger added.
That’s why expanding to places like the Burin Peninsula is so important.
Funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the expansion allows the Janeway Lifestyle Program to offer our services beyond the Avalon Peninsula, with a view to eventually providing evidence-based, culturally-specific information to all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Outside St. John’s, the Good Health for EveryBODY program is being offered through community leaders, who are trained by professionals in the Janeway Lifestyle Program in a variety of ways, including:
- training webinars,
- a full day workshop, and
- group materials: background manual, curriculum manual, and parent binder, DVDs, PowerPoint presentations and more.
Jackie Francis’ group in Marystown was the first community group to be trained by the Janeway Lifestyle team outside St. John’s – in partnership with the Brighter Futures Coalition and the Smallwood Crescent Community Centre.
The enthusiastic staff and parents in Marystown made this a great place to offer the pilot of Good Health for EveryBODY, and as the primary trainer there, I was delighted with their response. In six sessions, parents learned about healthy food and beverage choices, portion sizes, food labels, parenting, managing stress, sedentary (sitting) behaviour, physical activity and much more!
Since the success of the Marystown pilot in 2013, the expansion has moved rapidly. Community leaders in 15 additional centres in communities around the province – in eastern and central Newfoundland, the Northern Peninsula and Labrador – have now completed the training and are getting ready to offer the program in their own areas.
Below are some of the newest community trainees, members of the Family Resource Centre (FRC) in St. Anthony, with members of the Janeway Lifestyle team.
As program lead for the Janeway Lifestyle Program, it’s been my experience that working with community partners is critical to helping families. The Janeway Lifestyle team is comprised of healthcare professionals who are experts in healthy active living. Community leaders are experts on their individual communities. Together, we can support families to make the healthiest choices possible.
This October, one year after introducing the pilot program, our Janeway Lifestyle Team travelled back to Marystown to check in with families who completed the program. Many of the families reported maintaining the changes they learned in group.
Even small changes are important, as the health benefits long-term are huge.
Just ask Jackie Francis!
“Overall it was a great experience,” Jackie adds. “I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to take part in such a rewarding program!”
Next up is a traveling consultation service to Western Newfoundland this month – November 2014. Stay tuned – good health really is for everybody! ■
This story was written by Anne Wareham, psychologist and program lead, Janeway Lifestyle Program.