iPLAYCE study

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.

Preventing chronic disease through early intervention

PhD opportunities

PLAYCE research projects are available for PhD students.

These include:

  • 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.



To read more about this project and its related research, see below:


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
  • Kidsafe
  • Western Australian Local Government Authority
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Contact Dr Hayley Christian