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Coalition kicks off 'Real Happy Hour'

Campaign focuses on family

Oct. 5, 2012
 
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Website:
www.therealhappyhour.org
Facebook Page: The Real Happy Hour
Twitter: @Real_HappyHour

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The term “happy hour” frequently is used in reference to drink specials at bars and restaurants, but The Real Happy Hour Task Force is working to change the connotation from alcohol to focus on healthier, family-oriented activities.

Whether it’s cooking and eating a meal together at home, going on a walk or bike ride to the park, or reading together before bedtime, moments that families spend together are quality examples of The Real Happy Hour’s mission.

By asking the simple question, “What is your Real Happy Hour,” we feel we will be able to assess how people are spending time together. Members of the RHH Task Force asked that specific question at the 2012 Weston Fest in July, resulting in 65 short videos of local people sharing what their Real Happy Hour is and why it’s important to their families.

Wausau mother Shannon Graveen, 32, said she and her husband have made dramatic changes to eat and live more healthfully, to be positive role models for their young sons, Joseph, 4, and Jack, 3 months.

Graveen said up until two years ago, the family ate large portions and a lot of pizza and fast food for dinner. She joined Weight Watchers, and Dan was found to have diabetes, so both began to refocus their eating habits.

The Graveens make taking walks or playing together in the yard a priority and make sure to sit down together for dinner.

For older children, teenagers who have infrequent family dinners, rated as fewer than three per week, are almost four times as likely to use tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and 2.5 times as likely to use marijuana, according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The Real Happy Hour emphasizes the protective factors that family mealtime and family playtime can be in the fight against childhood obesity, alcohol and substance abuse in adolescents, in addition to early childhood development.

Graveen said she’s recently given up all soda and is reading labels and buying more organic foods.

“I’m trying to make new habits that are even healthier than the ones I’ve already made,” Graveen said.

The first goal of this campaign is to identify how families in Marathon County spend quality time together and to “brand” these moments as The Real Happy Hour. An imperative component of the campaign’s first goal is to go to the diverse target audience to gather the stories of Real Happy Hours to highlight and promote family-friendly activities and initiatives that are happening throughout Marathon County.

The second goal for The Real Happy Hour campaign is to move families from identifying “what are” some examples of The Real Happy Hour, to answer the question, “How can we do that and where do we start?” This campaign will not only create a network of stories and catalog of ideas, but it also will provide links to local resources, free or low-cost activities, and family-friendly events in the community, which is meant to educate and empower families to create their own Real Happy Hour in Marathon County.

The task force has identified specific priority areas and desired outcomes that will be the focus for educational topics that will vary from week to week on the newly developed website. Topics likely will include: family mealtime and playtime; relationships within the family; alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

So, tell us…. “What is your Real Happy Hour?”

Sources: Aaron Ruff, certified health education specialist with Marathon County Health Department and Melissa Dotter, Drug Free Communities Program Coordinator

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