Generation Health: Inspiring healthier BC families

Earlier this year, Manasi Shaha and her husband were looking for local things to do as a family with their eight-year-old son when a member of their WhatsApp group mentioned Generation Health.

Generation Health is a free, 10-week healthy living program for families in BC with children between the ages of 8 to 12. It supports participants in making family changes to health behaviours such as healthy eating, physical activity, positive mental health, reducing screen time, and sleep hygiene. It is focused on practical, fun activities that build family connectedness while building skills to make lasting changes. The program also incorporates positive mental health activities that build resilience and self-confidence and help to enhance overall well-being.

This evidence-based program was developed using a consultative approach and is delivered in partnership with the province of BC, the Childhood Obesity Foundation, and UVic. Several UVic researchers are involved, including Dr. Sam Liu, Dr. Patti-Jean Naylor, and Dr. Ryan Rhodes.

“Our family believes it’s important to set up healthy habits from childhood because it’s harder to change these habits later on in life. The bonus was that it was free, and it suited our schedules. So, we decided to try it.”

- Manasi Shaha, Generation Health parent participant

We recently caught up with Manasi about her experience in the program.

What were your family’s favourite parts of the program?

My son's favorite component was the kids' playtime with Pat, our instructor. Pat was amazing in the way he involved all the kids in each activity. My husband really enjoyed the outdoor sessions in nature, like hiking and walking.

Personally, I loved the goal-setting and gratitude exercises. I could set a specific goal for each week and then give it an honest effort. It helped me stay focused each week and enjoy the small successes along the way. The gratitude exercises gave me an opportunity to think about what I’m thankful for. It can be difficult to convey gratitude every day to kids, so this two or three-minute exercise was really amazing. Just to say thank you.

Who do you think would benefit the most from participating?

I think this program is a gentle introduction to forming healthy habits. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like you can be a part of other athletic or health communities, this is actually kind of targeted for you to take that first step. 

Even if you’re already health conscious, forming a new habit that includes taking a whole family of three or four people to do something active together can be difficult to coordinate. Especially with consistency. So the program is great for habit forming in that way, which anyone will benefit from.

How was this program helpful to your family?

The coordinators and instructor were amazing. I appreciated that they put everything into really simple language. They planned activities that kids enjoy, and made sure that everyone could get involved. And we all know, it can be helpful when someone other than a family member or parent tells you something. It’s a fun way to learn when you have other kids the same age doing activities together.

It was also amazing to connect with other parents, which we did on many levels. For example, our family is vegetarian, which came up in discussion during one of the sessions. Then some of the families started asking me for vegetarian recipes. Now, I regularly post vegetarian recipes in our group chat. We stay in touch and still get together as a group on weekends.

What kind of activities do you do together as a family now?

We usually like to go out for hikes or walks or play disc golf. One thing I would like to mention is geocaching. This was introduced to us by Carol, one of our favourite instructors. We got the app on our phone. Now, when we hike, we carry fun items in our backpacks, so when we find a geocached item we can replace it with another item. The kids are always really focused on going ahead and finding the next item, so it ends up being a great physical activity. You can be out there for hours.

What would you say to someone who is considering the program?

I have recommended the program to a few people, actually! For any parents who want help forming healthy habits. This is probably the easiest and simplest way, and it’s free. You get worksheets and notes to track your goals and progress. There are good meal planners and recipe suggestions.

I would say that this program makes you more literate about food and health, which benefits both parents and kids. So in my opinion, it’s worth giving a try!

About the program

The program includes weekly two-hour sessions that combine family time, child-only time and parent-only time. Each session starts with a fun group physical activity and gratitude circle. After this, the group splits up: kids stay in the gym for more games and physical activity, while parents move to a classroom for lesson-based learning and discussion time with a group facilitator. Finally, kids and parents come together in the classroom where they complete a lesson together, review their goals from the previous week and set a new or modified goal for the week ahead. Kids and parents each set an individual goal, and together they also set a family goal for the week.

In addition to the weekly sessions, families receive:

  • Access to an online Family Portal that includes weekly lessons and resources to complement the group sessions
  • 3 virtual cooking classes led by a Registered Dietitian, featuring healthy, kid-friendly recipes
  • Group Q&A session with a Registered Dietitian
  • Group Info/Q&A session with a Registered Clinical Counsellor
  • Following completion of the program, participants receive a 3-month family recreation centre pass, continued access to the online Family Portal, and a monthly newsletter.

Sign up for an upcoming program!

Programs are currently being delivered virtually (via Zoom) and in-person at recreation centres. Programs are offered during the fall, winter, and spring. There is also a self-paced, online option which participants can begin at any time. All programs are free of cost. 

For further information, please contact Project Manager, Bianca DeSilva, at