Award-Winning Daughters and Dads Program Coming to Gymnastics NSW

22 July, 2021

We have some fantastic news for our gymnastics community! 

In an Australian-first for the sport, Gymnastics NSW has been awarded a $50,000 grant to roll out the award-winning Daughters and Dads program. Awarded by The Office of Sport, Her Sport Her Way, the grant will allow GNSW to run the program in clubs in a bid to enhance the physical and social-emotional wellbeing of gymnasts. Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered is a community-based lifestyle program targeting fathers as the agents of change to improve their daughters’ fitness and physical activity levels and mental health.

GNSW plans to pilot the program in five clubs with course presenters who we hope will gain an authority to subsequently educate further clubs in coming years. It’s hoped the program can be offered through most clubs into the future.

CEO Aaron Bloomfield says GNSW is very grateful for this opportunity that can greatly benefit gymnasts throughout the state.

“This news could not be more exciting, especially because most of our gymnasts are young women,” Mr Bloomfield said. “We believe participation in the program will lead to increased positivity around body image and self-confidence. Gymnastics isn’t always a high-pressure sport geared towards winning, it’s about skill development and enjoyment.”

At its heart, the program means participants can hang out with their dads in a fun and creative way while reaping the benefits.

Why is this program needed?

Research shows dads or significant male figures play an influential role in a girl’s physical activity levels, sport skills and social-emotional wellbeing. Fathers who are actively engaged with their daughters improve mental health outcomes such as higher levels of cognitive ability, self-esteem, social skills, resilience, and educational outcomes. Fathers also have a critical role in helping their daughters form a healthy view of their body image, which is important given that self-esteem and body image are major concerns facing girls, particularly in the teenage years.

Despite the many benefits that result from a strong father-daughter bond, research suggests that up to 70% of fathers see themselves as an ‘extra set of hands’ when raising their daughters. In addition, fathers are often less involved with their daughters than mothers and tend to spend less time with daughters than sons. 

Studies show girls enter sports on average two years later than boys and drop out six times faster. By the time they enter high school, less than 10% of girls can adequately perform basic sport skills such as kicking, catching and throwing, which are the building blocks for confident and competent participation in physical activities through life.

About the program

Her Sport Her Way program Chair Kerry Turner says the gymnastics community is in a great position to help girls continue their participation in sport.

“The high participation rates of girls under 12 means gymnastics already has a strong community that can benefit from increased participation into adolescence,” she said. “Gymnastics helps build up fundamental movement skills, providing an important baseline of skills that helps encourage ongoing participation both within gymnastics, and across other sports and physical activity.”

Daughters are given the chance to practice key social-emotional skills including self-control, persistence, critical thinking, resilience and self-reliance. They will spend quality time with their dads in fun practical sessions involving sport skills, rough and tumble play and health-related fitness games. Meanwhile, dads learn evidence-based parenting skills and strategies to emotionally connect with their daughters and improve their physical and mental health.

Participating daughters must be attending primary school between kindergarten - Year 6.

For more information, feel free to visit the FAQ guide on the program page.