This past July, Grace and I returned to the Rochester, Minnesota area to collaborate with members of Dodge Refreshed and Mower Refreshed , two wellness initiatives sponsored by Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation. The mission of these two groups is the same: to build partnerships that support families and individuals to lead healthier lives and make healthier choices. Our mission was to train members of these organizations to deliver FDP workshops on their own and leverage our resources in their efforts to help families reap the many benefits of family dinners.
The trainings took place over two days and mirrored the way in which we typically conduct parenting workshops. The first day focused on how to present the research around the benefits of family dinner, and how to successfully and creatively engage with parents around ways to overcome their challenges related to family dinner.
On the second day, we talked about ways we can encourage parents to deepen the conversation, such as moving away from critical talk to encouraging talk; understanding the power of questions to encourage children to open up more; and how to listen so that children will move beyond one word answers. We also talked about play at the table, not only because it’s great for the family, but also for the stimulation of cognitive and developmental learning. On both days we demonstrated fun ways to cook at a workshop, including how to get kids involved in the cooking process and how to engage parents in making healthy choices around food and nutrition.
The people we trained included nutritionists, patient educators, public officials and others, each of whom had their own particular wisdom to offer. For instance, if a food question came up that I couldn’t answer I could turn to one of the nutritionists for help. This dynamic also mimicked our parenting workshops, which are based on the idea that the community is abundant; that the community already has what it needs to answer its own questions.
And now—in the case of these two communities—those who work with families have the tools to inspire and create healthy change. Here’s Jen Haugen, RD, LD, a dietician who came to our workshops, spreading the message on Rochester’s ABC affiliate, KAAL TV!