ĊAQLAQ! – PARENTS’ WELL-BEING WORKSHOPS

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Ċaqlaq! has just concluded a series of parents’ wellbeing workshops in 25 schools.

Ċaqlaq! is a comprehensive health awareness initiative funded by Fundación Mapfre that is now about to enter its third year of campaigning. It works with primary schoolchildren and their families to improve their health and fitness awareness amidst an ever growing prevalence of obesity and child diabetes in Malta.

Between October 2014 and February 2015, Ċaqlaq! hosted workshops with parents from 25 state and Catholic church schools to actively and critically engage families with health and fitness. According to a 2015 survey by the World Health Organisation, Malta tips the weighing scales in the EU by having the highest overweight and obesity rates, and ranks third in the whole of Europe when it comes to weight beyond the healthy level. The survey also concluded that 68.5% of Maltese men and 59.6% of Maltese women aged 18 years and over are overweight. Moreover, Maltese kids are the second most overweight and obese in Europe, especially those aged between 10 and 11.

During the Ċaqlaq! campaign, parents, guardians and carers of students’ engaged in collaborative and interactive activities that included group work, collaborative discussions and presentations. The select issues prioritised were child diabetes, smoking and passive smoking, the relationship between technology and a sedentary life, and active outdoor and community spaces.

The workshop pedagogy aimed to give participants a sense of ownership within a democratic and reflexive environment, enhancing social capital and grassroots’ engagement with official knowledge. Parents were asked to identify pertinent issues and discuss possible solutions.

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The Ċaqlaq! team consequently produced a research study coordinated by Dr Maria Brown, which found that during the workshop, participants wished to work towards a more balanced and healthy diet and a lifestyle that includes exercise on a regular basis. They linked the discussions to their personal contexts, making reference to immediate and long-term possibilities for their families. They also made particular reference to broader socio-economic, cultural and global dynamics, such as limited water supply, limited availability of public and recreational spaces, and difficulties in obtaining a work-life balance.

The thrust of the first group has been to open a channel for discussion within the schools’ community in order to better understand the prevailing situation.

Ċaqlaq! will continue its important work of actively engaging families and communities in a proactive challenge for enhanced health and well-being. They will now be drawing on research recommendations by continuing to tour local schools and engaging children from Grades 1 to 3 with creative and interactive talks, as well as hosting a new series of interactive workshops, this time involving parents and their children as participants.

For further information, check out the Ċaqlaq! Facebook page or contact Jon Mallia on 99966660.