A WORLD-FIRST study, being carried out in the Hunter, is aiming to show fathers’ could hold the secret in getting their daughters to embrace sport and exercise.
University of Newcastle’s Professor Phil Morgan is the creator of the DADEE program – Dads and Daughters Exercising and Empowered – which will also focus on breaking down gender stereotypes and improving the self-esteem and body image of girls aged between five and 12.
Professor Morgan said research showed girls were starting sport two years later than boys and were also six times more likely to drop out.
He noted this significant divide meant more than 80per cent of girls failed to meet physical activity recommendations and less than 10 per cent could adequately perform basic sports skills.
“Media and marketing promote gender stereotypes and with females that involves more of a focus on physical appearance rather than physical function,” he said.
“Research also shows that girls are marginalised in home and school physical activity contexts.
“We’ll be teaching dads the most effective strategies to teach sports skills and enhance their self confidence and self-esteem.
“This study is also putting a spotlight on the importance of a positive male role model in a girls’ life.”
Professor Morgan said it was the first program to specifically concentrate on the role dads can play in increasing the physical activity of a daughter.
He said this was despite the fact it was known father-child relationships generally tended have more of a focus on physical play, risk taking and competition. “So we’re capitalising on the natural instincts of fathers,” he said.
Professor Morgan said there was a strict criterion for the first stage of the study so it was only open to fathers and daughters, although they didn’t have to be biological.
He said more people would be able to sign up when the program was rolled out to the community.
The DADEE trial will start in January and run for eight weeks. Register online at DADEE@newcastle.edu.au or call 49216566.