Becoming one of the first qualified Group Lifestyle Triple P practitioners in New Zealand was a turning point in Dany Haira’s life. While training to motivate and support families to develop effective strategies for managing their child’s weight, Dany (Ngati Kuia) was inspired to make changes to her own lifestyle.
After working as a parent educator for Parents As First Teachers (PAFT) for 15 years, the Masterton mother-of-four was approached by Compass Health to deliver the Group Lifestyle Triple P programme to families. “There are many families in New Zealand who would benefit from a change of lifestyle, including my own, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to help. And completing it myself gave me even more enthusiasm to deliver the programme to parents. I knew I would have to walk the talk – if I’m going to deliver these messages to families, then I’m going to have to be healthy myself.”
Group Lifestyle Triple P is a multi-component intervention for families with overweight or obese children. The aim is to help parents develop effective strategies for managing their child’s weight, by introducing gradual permanent changes to their family’s lifestyle.
To become qualified as a practitioner, the trainees had to demonstrate their knowledge and competence in delivery through a skills-based accreditation process. The group of 11 from the South Island and three from the North Island completed the two-part active-skills training programme through the South Island Alliance in October and November. Dany was the second person in New Zealand to pass the assessment and become qualified.
In 2015, the South Island Alliance established a clinical advisory group to develop a regional plan to help prevent, identify and manage unhealthy weight in children. The work now supports the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan and health target. Under the target, obese children will be identified at B4 School Checks (B4SC) and DHBs are responsible for referring them for assessment and family based interventions. As part of the South Island plan, GPs are provided a suite of referral options, which now includes the Group Lifestyle Triple P programme.
By the time Dany had completed the first part of the training, her family had lost a combined 15kg of weight. However, it’s more about a change of lifestyle than weight loss, she says. “After the first stage of the course, I returned home and my husband and youngest daughter came on board straight away. We previously had a sedentary lifestyle, so we increased our physical activity and changed our diet. My son has also started making changes. We are a lot happier and noticed a big change in energy levels and appearance, even after just two weeks.”
She says while the change can be difficult at times, the family is in it for the long haul. “I understand how difficult it can be, so I think that gives me the ability to be able to relate to the parents more easily – I can do it alongside them. So, this is a real win/win. Life is better when you are healthier, and if we can do this, anyone can.”