iPLAY Space and Environment Interventions for Children’s Physical Activity study
The iPLAY Space and Environment Interventions for Children’s Physical Activity (iPLAYCE) research evaluates the effectiveness of early childhood education and care programs and environmental upgrades to increase young children’s physical activity.
If found to be effective, physical activity professional development programs will provide a cost-effective and sustainable strategy for improving children’s physical activity and health while in childcare.
We will evaluate the impact of upgrades to early childhood education and care outdoor spaces, while providing information of the features of outdoor spaces which are used to promote children’s physical activity.
We are working with our partners in the early childhood education and care sector to develop a set of practice guidelines for the design of early childhood education and care play spaces which promote physical activity.
We have two main goals within the iPLAYCE Study. The first is to pilot test professional development-based programs previously created by our team to improve early childhood education and care educator knowledge and practices around children’s physical activity.
We will look specifically at fundamental movement skills and outdoor-nature based play based programs.
Our second goal is, through a series of natural experiments, to evaluate the effect of early childhood education and care centre outdoor space upgrades on educator physical activity and outdoor play practices, and children’s physical activity and outdoor play.
The iPLAYCE study is supported by funding from:
- Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) Exploratory Grant (2016-2018)
- Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) Research Project Grant (2015-2018)
- National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship – Hayley Christian (2016-2020)
Research team leader: Associate Professor Hayley Christian
UWA Associate Professor Hayley Christian’s research focuses on improving children’s physical activity levels, health and development. She examines health and wellbeing through multi-level interventions focused on the child, family, social and built environment. This includes identifying and testing strategies to create healthy early childhood education and care environments, while investigating how the home and neighbourhood environment shapes children’s health and development. Other members of the research team include Associate Professor Michael Rosenberg, Associate Professor Leanne Lester, Dr Bryan Boruff, Dr Ashleigh Thornton, Ms Clover Maitland and Ms Joanne Powell from UWA, Dr Gina Trapp from the Telethon Kids Institute, Professor Stewart Trost from Queensland University of Technology, Associate Professor Jasper Schipperijn from the University of Southern Denmark, Mr Griffin Longley from Nature Play WA and Ms Shelley Prendergast from the Australian Childcare Alliance, WA.
PLAYCE research projects are available for PhD students.
- using GPS and accelerometer collected data to understand where and how young children move around their home and neighbourhood
- evidence-informed physical activity policy for early childhood education and care
- qualitative research with children, parents, staff and key stakeholders in the childcare setting
- interventions to improve physical activity levels and health of children attending childcare
PhD applicants are required to have the following:
- ability to conduct quantitative and qualitative research
- ability to undertake statistical analysis (SPSS and/or SAS)
- excellent writing skills
- ability to work as part of a team
- good interpersonal communication skills
Students are encouraged to arrange a time to meet and discuss potential topics and scholarship opportunities with Associate Professor Hayley Christian.
Two thirds of children do not do enough physical activity
Led by UWA, the largest global study to examine physical activity in children aged between two and five years old has found 66 per cent of children are not getting the nationally recommended three hours of daily physical activity needed for their growth and development.Read more
UWA exercise researchers fit Perth kids with GPS trackers
Kids at Perth childcare centres are being fitted with GPS trackers dubbed “Superman belts” as part of research into whether preschoolers get enough exercise. It follows a pilot study by UWA that found 82 per cent of children attending childcare were not meeting physical activity guidelines.Read more
To read more about this project and its related research, see below:
- Christian, H., Rosenberg, M., Trost, S., Schipperijn, J., Maitland, C., Trapp, G., Lester, L., Boruff, B., Thornton, A., Zubrick, S., Powell, J., Wenden, E (2018). Findings from the Western Australian PLAY Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity Study. Supportive Childcare Environments for Physical Activity in the Early Years. Perth, Western Australia: The University of Western Australia, School of Population and Global Health.
- Christian, H, Maitland, C, Enkel, S, Trapp, G, Trost, SG, Schipperijn, J, Boruff, B, Lester, L, Rosenberg, M, Zubrick, SR (2016). Influence of the day care, home and neighbourhood environment on young children's physical activity and health: Protocol for the PLAYCE observational study. BMJ Open, 6, 014058.
We are collaborating with a number of organisations:
- Goodstart Early Learning
- Nature Play Australia
- Australian Childcare Alliance
- Minderoo Foundation – Collaborate for Kids (CoLab)
- Department of Health, WA
- Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, WA
- UWA Childcare
- Great Beginnings Early Education for Life
- Buggles Early Learning and Kindy
- Jellybeans Child Care & Kindy
- Maragon Early Learning
- MercyCare Early Learning
- Sonas Early Learning and Care
- Little Learners Early Development & Education Centre
- Ngala Early Learning and Development
- Early Childhood Australia (WA)
- Playgroup WA
- Western Australian Local Government Authority