Play Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity and Health
The PLAY Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity (PLAYCE) Study investigates which features of the early childhood education and care, home and neighbourhood environment promote physical activity, health and development in children aged two to five years.
Physical activity has many health benefits for young children, including developing healthy bones, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving cognitive and social development. Yet, only one in three pre-school (aged two to five years old) children achieve the recommended three hours of daily physical play.
Early childhood education and care is an important setting for promoting physical activity as many young Australian children attend care. PLAYCE is the first large scale study of its kind in WA. Our research team is working with the State’s early childhood education and care sector to ensure its findings inform best practice recommendations to support children’s physical activity, health and development.
This policy will be in line with the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and the Early Years Learning Framework.
We aim to answer the following questions through the PLAYCE study:
- How physically active (and inactive) are young children in WA?
- How does the early childhood education and care environment influence children’s physical activity, health and development?
- How can we assist educators in supporting children’s physical activity, health and development?
The PLAYCE Study is supported by funding from the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) Research Project Grant and the National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship.
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.
The PLAYCE research projects available 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 stake holders in the childcare setting
- interventions to improve physical activity levels and health of children attending childcare
The requirements for this PhD opportunity include:
- the ability to conduct quantitative and qualitative research
- the ability to undertake statistical analysis (SPSS and/or SAS)
- excellent writing skills
- the 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
For more information about this project, see the readings 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). A snapshot of the PLAYCE project: 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.
- Okely, AD, Ghersi, D, Hesketh, KD, Santos, R, Loughran, SP, Cliff, DP, Shilton, T, Grant, D, Jones, RA, Stanley, RM, Sherring, J, Hinkley, T, Trost, SG, McHugh, C, Eckermann, S, Thorpe, K, Waters, K, Olds, TS, Mackey, T, Livingstone, R, Christian, H, Carr, H, Verrender, A, Pereira, JR, Zhang, Z, Downing, KL, Tremblay, MS, 2017. A collaborative approach to adopting/adapting guidelines. The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (Birth to 5 years): An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep. BMC Public Health, 17 (5), 869.
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