Respect Everybody and Choose Health

REACH (Respect Everybody and Choose Health) is a four week program aimed at Year 5 and Year 6 students from small primary schools throughout the Hastings Macleay Region of the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD).

The focus of REACH is to educate students about healthy eating, positive body image, changes during pubertal development and anti-social behaviours such as bullying and harassment. REACH also focuses on improving self-esteem, self-acceptance and peer support through an increased understanding of the physiological and emotional differences between individuals.

REACH aims to focus on positive nutrition, positive aspects of development, and key messages around health, so that negative connotations and associations with food and weight can be avoided. REACH promotes the key message of balance, variety and moderation, so that there is no one food that cannot be included in a healthy, balanced diet.

REACH offers an interactive program combining informative education sessions with fun activities and worksheets, to demonstrate its intended health messages. The program also incorporates a multidisciplinary approach to education as REACH utilises health professionals from Nutrition and Dietetics, Women’s Health and the Child and Mental Health Teams of the MNCLHD. This brings a broad expanse of knowledge, expertise and awareness to the program.

Upon completion of the REACH program, it is anticipated that students will have the necessary knowledge to progress through this stage of development with minimal upheaval, so that puberty is a healthy, happy and positive life experience.

Although overweight and obesity present major concerns in our society, they are not the focus of this program, as weight gain and changing body shape is an expected outcome of pubertal development. Many of today’s teenagers experience mixed messages in terms of health and weight, because as a nation we have a much greater focus on the number of young Australians who are overweight and obese conflicting with the other end of the spectrum where there is increased focus on body image and what constitutes an acceptable and healthy body. As a result many young people are getting caught between two potentially conflicting messages.


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