Health officials turned their attention to fathers at a community event in Seminole County Thursday in an ongoing effort to improve the health of children. 

  • Healthy Dads event in Seminole County Thursday
  • Gave dads tips to make healthier meals for their kids
  • Healthy Start Coalition to offer more events in the coming months

Corey Peterson says balancing both parents’ work schedules doesn’t leave much time for making healthy meals.

“When I have my kids when my wife works late, or she’s got cheerleading practice, most of the time I just order pizza or go to McDonalds,” said Peterson.

But Peterson says he realizes it’s important to set a healthy example for his kids.  So he joined some other dads at the Midway Safe Harbor Center Thursday night after the Healthy Start Coalition of Seminole County invited them.

The coalition has spent a lot of time trying to fight alarming rates of early infant deaths and childhood obesity in the county by reaching out to expecting mothers and mothers with young children. But they realized they needed to do more for mothers and fathers.

“Because we want the dads to know they’re important too,” said Thelisha Thomas, executive director of Healthy Start Coalition of Seminole County.

“We’re always about the moms and that’s a good thing, but we want to bring the dads into the circle as well.”

The coalition saw there were a lot of fathers like Peterson who want to set a good example for their kids, but they just need some help on how to do that.

“We saw dads at the football games who actually filled out the surveys and said hey, we want to be engaged too, we want parental education and we want to learn how to be better dads,” said Thomas.

So on Thursday night the coalition showed dads how to cook healthier food, and provide their children with smaller portions.

And Peterson says he not only looks forward to his kids eating healthier, but also giving their mom a bit of a break.

“It’s good for the fathers to be in the program too, to relieve some of the stress off the mothers,” said Peterson.

And this is just the beginning. Healthy Start Coalition plans to host more father-focused events in more communities throughout Seminole County in the coming months.