Another Way To Play: Can we change play environments and childcare training to improve physical activity levels?


Another Way To Play: Can we change play environments and childcare training to improve physical activity levels?

Improving physical activity levels and Well-being among young people in FE colleges is a major focus for ColegauCymru/CollegesWales supporting colleges in developing a fitter and healthier future workforce for Wales. Childcare and early years courses may provide an example of an area where getting students more active and skilled in delivering activity could have a major impact both on them and the children they are working with in childcare environments.

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales introduced “Another Way to Play” as an initial workshop at the Swansea Behaviour Change Festival 2017 held at the Swansea University Bay Campus. The aim of the workshop was to present new initiatives and ways of working from Wales, Scotland, Norway and Germany to a new network of stakeholders with an interest in developing physical activity among early years.
The workshop highlighted the benefit of learning more from other cultures and using the experiences of those involved to send a powerful message towards changing behaviour.

Jonathan Davies from Public Health Wales started the ball rolling introducing the concept of the “Daily Mile”, a programme developed successfully in Scottish primary schools and now being introduced to Wales. The daily mile involves primary school children walking, running or jogging a mile everyday as part of their school day, the mile is completed in an informal manner without the need for kit and often peer -led by other primary age children. Benefits highlighted in Scotland included improved health, fitness, energy levels and behaviour among those involved.

Lucia Preece and Helen Middleton, Childcare lecturers from Cardiff and Vale College presented their experiences leading a group of students on a placement in Norway as part of an Erasmus+ project organised by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales. The most startling difference of this experience was the approach to play in Kindergartens in Norway in comparison to Wales, the children are encouraged to be more independent with much of their play and activity completed outdoors in natural play environments. They were encouraged to roam around the large grounds of the Kindergarten climbing trees, scrambling over large rocks and burying the staff in the sand pit!

The group was then given an inspirational insight into intergenerational housing in Germany by Andrea Laux, a national expert on intergenerational housing in Germany. Andrea highlighted another culture that was less risk averse and actively encouraged shared supervision of children in a community “house” that also provided care for the elderly alongside childcare and other community activity. The concept really encouraged everyone involved to use their skills to support others using the environment without age being seen as a barrier.

The final presentation by Shana Thomas from Sport Wales introduced the concept of Physical Literacy in developing physical activity in the curriculum and the community. New resources were presented to assist everyone in understanding their physical literacy journey and the importance of developing physical literacy from cradle to grave in overcoming previous failures in getting more people in Wales more active.

Additional input was provided from members of the group from Colleges, Play work, Local Authorities, Health and Governing Bodies, some key points included modifying qualifications to be more active, raising awareness on new ways of assessing risk relating to play and experiences where local authority sports development are already linking up with FE colleges to train Childcare students.