With generous support from Port Waratah Coal Services, Hunter Children’s Research Foundation and Hunter Medical Research Institute, the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program was developed in 2013. At that time the program was named the DADEE (Dads And Daughters Exercising and Empowered) program.
The Daughters and Dads project was the first study internationally to target the father-daughter relationship to improve girls’ self-esteem and physical activity.
Pilot Program (2013-2015)
Phase 1 of the Daughters and Dads research saw the development and testing of the program with 115 fathers and 153 daughters at the University of Newcastle, using a rigorous randomised controlled trial (RCT) design.
Impressive results were achieved across a range of domains for families including:
- Dads and daughters became more physically active
- Daughters greatly improved their sport skill proficiency, including improvements in kicking, throwing, catching, striking and bouncing
- Daughters demonstrated greatly improved resilience and social-emotional skills such as self-awareness, social awareness, self-regulation, goal-directed behaviour and optimistic thinking
- Dads improved their parenting practices and became more involved and engaged with their daughters
- Both fathers and daughters reported an improved closeness and warmth in their relationship
Importantly, these improvements were all maintained 6 months after the program finished.
Dads and daughters also reported a very high level of satisfaction, rating the program at 4.9/5 (where 1 = poor and 5 = excellent).
Community Randomised Controlled Trial (2016-2017)
The next phase of the research saw evaluation of the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program with 157 Dads and 193 Daughters when delivered by trained facilitators in local Newcastle communities, using a rigorous RCT design.
Preliminary results have indicated that fathers and daughters achieved comparable improvements in physical activity behaviours to those in the pilot program, even though the program was delivered by trained local facilitators rather than the highly qualified research team.
Community Roll Out (2017-2019)
This phase of Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered has seen the program delivered annually by trained facilitators in the Newcastle region. Over 200 dads and 250 daughters have attended during this phase.
The University of Newcastle research team behind the program have continued to investigate the impact for dads and daughters on a range of physical; social-emotional wellbeing and parenting measures.
This team has also continued to develop the University of Newcastle elective course which educates pre-service teachers in the ethos of the Daughters and Dads program, enabling students to become actively involved in delivery of the program in the community and complete a course to become an accredited facilitators. Researchers are investigating the impact of this course on pre-service teachers skills and knowledge and understanding of gender equality in the physical activity setting.
NSW Statewide Rollout with the Office of Sport (2019-2023)
The NSW Government have invested $2.4 Million over four years to deliver the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program across NSW in a collaboration with the Office of Sport and the Sport sector. The University of Newcastle research team will evaluate the implementation and impact of the scale up during this period.
Testimonials from dads participating in the 2016-2017 Community Trial:
"Put simply, for me it was life changing. Emphasising the importance of Fundamental Movement Skills and activity levels in girls, and the vital role a dad plays in that. We will forever be grateful for the many lessons learnt and will be more active as a family and I will be a better parent as a result."
"This program was the parenting hand book I never received! I found all aspects about exercise and empowerment relevant and motivating. Now I have a stronger relationship with my daughter."
"The program gave me a lot of food for thought and challenged my thoughts on the importance of female sport skills. The program has shifted my focus on pre-conceived parenting ideas. I now feel closer to my daughter, more aware and in tune with her needs. Great program."
"The entire program is very unique and should be given to every parent who is about to have a baby girl, before they pinkifiy their new bedroom. I am serious about this, it is essential knowledge for all parents."
"Sometimes you forget just what a privilege the parenting journey is - this program really made me think about how easy it is to fall into gender traps with girls, so learning how to challenge the typical assumptions' was the best thing I took from the course."