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Children (Basel). 2014 Oct 16;1(3):318-38. doi: 10.3390/children1030318.

Prevention is Better than Cure: A Hands-On, Play-Based, Innovative, Health and Well-Being Program in Remote Australia.

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Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital WA Inc., Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, BOX D184, Perth 6840, Western Australia, Australia.


A key to improving the quality of life in remote communities is the empowerment of children who are at health and educational risk. Between 2002 and 2009, at a remote Aboriginal school, students and community members participated in an innovative, play-based health and well-being program aimed at helping children to become self-determining and responsible for their own health and well-being. Holistic in its approach, and broad in its scope, the multi-faceted program encompassed the fundamentals of personal hygiene; understanding of body systems; the importance of nutrition, hydration, sleep and exercise; brain care; the biology of emotions, with particular emphasis on anger management and the critical interplay between emotions and behavior; the impact of substances of abuse on the brain; as well as the Hospital Familiarization Program (HFP) which prepares children for planned and unplanned hospitalization. Program outcomes included improved school attendance and student engagement; increased community awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle; improved self-concept, self-esteem and self-confidence; as well as increased respect and caring for self and others. A reduction in children's fear and anxiety when facing hospitalization and visits to the doctor was also evident. Each year, 12,500 children throughout Western Australia enjoy the benefits of the HFP.


empowerment; mental health; physical health; play.; prevention

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