University of Western Australia: Specialist program helps children live a healthy and active life

KIDDO, a specialist program developed by academics at The University of Western Australia, is expanding its offering to 950 early learning services in WA with funding support from Healthway and Lotterywest.

Many Australian children aged two to five do not get the recommended level of three hours of physical activity per day. The expansion will allow more than 25,000 children from birth to five years to reap the benefits of building the foundations for an active and healthy life.

Physical activity during the early years of life is critical for a child’s health and development and benefits include development of gross motor skills, increased physical fitness, lowered risk of being overweight or obese, along with improved confidence, social skills, concentration and a decreased risk of anxiety and depression.

KIDDO has joined not-for-profit Goodstart Early Learning, and other early learning providers, to give early childhood educators – with a focus on lower SES communities – the ability to deliver physical activity programs.

Goodstart Early Learning WA state manager, Mr Todd Dawson, said the benefit of the KIDDO program for children and educators is immense.

“KIDDO is helping the educators at Goodstart’s centres ensure physical activity is a key component of each day for every child,” Mr Dawson said.

“Just as important as developing the children’s gross motor skills, they love the activities, which build their confidence and motivation to be active.”

KIDDO program director Amanda Derbyshire, a research associate from UWA’s School of Human Sciences, said children who were given the opportunity early in life to develop the skills and confidence to be active, were more likely to participate in physical activity throughout their lives.

“Australian children – alongside children from across the world – are spending more time playing indoors and on screens than outdoors and in the park,” Ms Derbyshire said.

“In addition they receive less instruction in the development of movement skills from trained educators.

“As a result, they are increasingly failing to develop the basic building blocks of movement, including running, throwing, kicking, catching, jumping and balancing.”

KIDDO will be travelling all over WA in 2022 and 2023 to share the program with parents, teachers and early learning educators. All services will get the opportunity to attend workshops and demonstration sessions, access KIDDO’s online platform and provide their staff with everything they need to provide fun, active programs for children.

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