Dr Bryan Neil discusses innovative health education sessions for fathers and sons, that Dr Neil and health visitor Paula Muncaster run in Buckinghamshire
Since 1993, annual 'health information' sessions have been provided at a county middle school in Amersham, Bucks, called Elangeni. Myself, a GP and health visitor Paula Muncaster have produced sessions with objectives around opening up, developing and strengthening communications between father and son.
Evening sessions were planned in order to enable fathers to attend after work and they were targeted at year 6 boys (aet 10-11yrs). They have been running for seven years and receive the full support of the parents, staff and school governing body.
The evening starts with a short introduction and explanation of the aims of the session. This is followed by a video clip produced by the F.P.A. containing good descriptions of the physical changes taking place at puberty.
The boys and fathers are then divided up and the health care professional with the boys uses a puberty wordsearch to promote discussion. The health care professional with the fathers discusses outside influences which may affect the sons and the risks they may take. The fathers consider the motives for their son's behaviour and the importance of spending time and talking is emphasised. The two groups are then asked about their expectations of each other.
They are brought together for another short video clip which concentrates on the emotional and sexual changes occurring at puberty. The groups are then divided up again with the health care professional changing groups.
During this session, the boys concentrate on making choices about health and dealing with peer pressure in relation to risk taking behaviour. The fathers form small groups and address specific topic questions around the pressures their sons face.
Finally, they are brought together and their expectations of one another highlighted. The fathers expectations for their sons are usually around being happy, confident, having respect for themselves and others and achieving their potential. The sons expectations of their fathers are around wanting more of their time, mutual respect, love and more mature discussion. During this last session the fathers and sons are invited to complete a listening exercise which highlights the importance of active listening. The fathers and sons are then asked to complete evaluations.
Immediate feedback is always positive and later feedback demonstrates that the sessions have often been very influential in helping some fathers develop a meaningful dialogue with their sons. These sessions continue at both Elangeni and other local schools.
To contact the author, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page created on March 26th, 2002
Page updated on December 1st, 2009