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

KIDDO, a specialist program developed by academics at The University of Western Australia, is partnering with 950 early childhood services in WA to give preschool children the best start to a healthy and active life.

Formerly known as Uni-Active, KIDDO was launched in 2014 to help children develop the essential skills and confidence needed for physical literacy – the ability to run, jump, throw, catch and be active.

KIDDO has joined not-for-profit Goodstart Early Learning to give early childhood educators, with a focus on lower SES communities, the ability to deliver physical literacy programs to 25,000 children from birth to five years.

Goodstart Early Learning WA state manager, Mr Todd Dawson, said the benefits of the KIDDO program for children and educators are 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 builds 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 physical literacy were more likely to participate in physical activity throughout their life.

“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.”

The benefits of the program include increased physical fitness, decreased risk of being overweight or obese, improved confidence and social skills, improved academic results and a decreased risk of anxiety and depression.

Funded by Lotterywest and Healthway, KIDDO aims to provide training and physical literacy programs to 75 per cent of all WA childcare services and 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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