Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered was conceived by Professor Phil Morgan in 2014 in response to alarming statistics about the significant decline in physical activity seen in adolescent girls in Australia and associated risks to their future physical and psychological health.
Additionally, Phil saw the importance of improving the social and emotional wellbeing of young girls given recent Australian statistics identifying self-esteem issues in teenage girls.
Building on his experience developing the international award-winning Healthy Dads Healthy Kids program and as the father of three girls, Phil knew fathers to be one of the key role models and motivators in a girl’s life:
"Research has consistently demonstrated the unique and powerful influence dads wield in shaping physical activity behaviours, learning ability, self-esteem, body image, social skills and resilience, particularly for girls. Importantly, we also know that a strong father-daughter relationship is associated with significant positive psycho-social developmental and health outcomes for the daughter. Physical activity is a unique domain to foster this relationship" Prof. Phil Morgan
With generous funding from Port Waratah Coal Services and the Hunter Children's Research Foundation, the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program was developed and first tested under rigorous randomised controlled trial conditions with 115 families at the University of Newcastle in 2015.
Since launching in 2015, over 990 daughters and 870 dads have attended the Daughters and Dads program and 260 educators have been trained as accredited program facilitators
In an international collaboration in 2018, the University of Newcastle partnered with Women in Sport-UK to deliver the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program in the UK. Women in Sport-UK received a $1 million award from Sport England to deliver the program over a three year period (2019-2021), targeting families from lower socio-economic groups. The culturally adapted program is being delivered across England in a partnership with the UK Fatherhood Institute, English Football League Trust (EFL Trust) and six Club Community Organisations (CCOs):
- North East: Foundation of Light (Sunderland), and Middlesbrough FC Foundation;
- West Midlands: Stoke City FC Community Trust and The Albion Foundation (West Bromwich); and
- London: Fulham FC Foundation and Leyton Orient Trust.
Later in 2018, the NSW Minister of Sport, Stuart Ayres announced four years of funding for the state-wide rollout of the Daughters and Dads program in conjunction with the Office of Sport NSW. The program will be a key focus of the Office of Sport's 4-year, multi-facet ‘Her Sport Her Way’ strategy aimed to increase the number of girls and women playing sport across the state.
As part of the grant, sport specific adaptations of the Daughters and Dads program will be developed and pilot tested in collaboration with major sporting organisations. In 2020, the first sport specific variant of the program, Daughters & Dads Cricket, was delivered in collaboration with Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia. Daughters & Dads Basketball is currently in the development stages and will be pilot tested in late 2021 in collaboration with Basketball NSW.
The University of Newcastle team are excited for a future sharing the substantial health and wellbeing benefits of the Daughters and Dads program to families across NSW and internationally.