You will recall from our December newsletter that Active Movement is to complete a second term at the Old School House Day Nursery. Continuity is important when trying to affect behaviour and attitude changes in the long-term so we welcome the chance to carry on the exciting work we have started. In addition, we have now been able to complete some important evaluation of the children, staff members and, thanks to several of you who agreed to telephone interviews, views from parents about the work completed so far. In this month’s newsletter, we have detailed some of the encouraging findings and feedback that have led to developments in the Active Movement programme that you will see as of February 4th. As always, if you have any concerns or comments about Active Movement, you can contact Dr Mike Loosemore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter Savage (email@example.com)
The 8 week trial of Active Movement at the nursery was the first time that it had been trialled amongst this age group. A previous programme to 5-11 year olds in a school in the West Country had supplied important learning and excellent results, but there were clear challenges when communicating and evaluating children of such a young age. There were three important elements to delivering the programme. Communication had to be empathetic to the youngsters as their mobility and understanding increased. Role-models play a vital part in setting children’s behaviours so it was important to involve all within the children’s community such as parents and practitioners. Finally, we wanted to ensure we created as much learning as we could to not only test the concept, but shape its future.
OSHDN – a place of learning
The Active Movement TM programme comprised 3 areas of approach. Firstly, a programme aimed to educate and inspire the children that ‘standing up’ is good for you. Through posters, games, language and efforts by the staff to engage the children, our two characters Stan (who stands) and Sid (who sits) and their respective roles were explained. Secondly, the staff was given their own Active Movement programme to undertake, encouraging them to be less sedentary and add a little extra activity to their daily routines. Finally, we looked to engage the parents through presentations, newsletters and homework created for the children. We looked at various aspects in our review. Through a specially-designed questionnaire for staff, we wanted to see if there were definitive shifts in well-being behaviour across a number of different markers from self-esteem to illness prevention. Focus groups helped us understand the staff’s views of the programme, its enjoyability and their affinity with the concept. Special Movements such as pedometer challenges helped us measure commitment to tasks. And we commissioned a Mosaic approach, a specially designed research protocol to evaluate children’s response.
Active Movement is different from other health interventions. As much as we are happy with anyone going to the gym or taking long walks, we know that the majority of people reject this sort of physical activity. The startpoint is not free gym memberships or other fast-tracks to health, but a realisation that we need to change people’s attitude to well-being so they might consider some activity at all. This needs therefore not a new fitness regime but a change in behaviour. Of course, the more we can ingrain these behaviour traits the better. Helping our children see that even simple activity can make a difference is intended to ensure that even those who do not like sport, competition or any physical activity can still protect their bodies and health. But behaviour changes take a long time, requiring constant support and engagement. In the second term, both the staff and the children will see further developments in the Active Movement programme to maintain their enthusiasm and commitment. On the display boards in the entranceway, you will see some of the ways that we have revised the programme to both respond to research findings and to intensify the experience. That leaves the parents. Our research has clearly indicated that we did not involve or inform as many of you as we should nor as often as you would have liked. This will change with a series of newsletters, emails, facebook entries and homework assignments.
Lessons Lessons from our evaluation
Below is a snap shot of some of the outtakes from detailed reports about Active Movement’s effect on OSHDN, its children, staff and parents. More information can be supplied.
Learnings – focus groups
”It made me realise that there were things I hadn’t thought about – like how when I go to the gym I was parking as close as possible to the door! It just makes you start thinking that way about everything, about not being lazy.”
“It gets into your brain – you start even mentioning it to friends because you are thinking about it out of the nursery .”
“It made me realise that it takes less time than you think to do these good things: walking to a further loo doesn’t take much longer .”
Children’s reported reactions
“Before AM a lot of children would ask for a chair if there wasn’t one by the table where they wanted to do something, but now the ones who have most taken to S&S are likely not to ask because they are happy standing to do it – “I’m Stan”, they say .”
“Amazingly the children see a wider connection with health. When asked “how should we celebrate Stan’s birthday”, one child said “go running” while another said “we should eat fruit and veg” – even though we never told them those connections.”
“He soon started to tell us about when we should be standing or walking! “
“I went to the evening briefing so got quite excited about a pioneering approach that could only do the kids good. My one worry was whether I’d have loads of extra stuff to do at home to support it, but I didn’t.”
“I was neutral at first but now I’m for it – it’s important that they get a good start in life and while it’s too early for them to worry themselves about what they eat or how much exercise they get – because they never stop – this is a good thing to begin with.”
Learnings – Special Movements
As an example of the staff’s commitment to Active Movement, in one week’s pedometer challenge, the staff completed over 450000 steps!
Learnings – behavioural questionnaire
The questionnaire comprises 100 questions that are distilled down to 20 key pointers about behaviour change. They are conducted at the beginning of a programme and at its end, though usually over a 12 month time scale. However, even in this short period of time, we saw significant changes such as reduced anxiety about health but greater interest in well-being, greater assertiveness about personal health, improved health status, greater optimism about health and more effort in preventing illness.
A further questionnaire will be conducted after the next phase of Active Movement activity.
Learnings – Mosaic approach
This intensive week-long study at the nursery was intended to evaluate children’s reaction to Stan and Sid stimuli throughout the nursery as well as evidence from the children through drawings, photographs and observations. There was clear evidence that children not only identified the characters, but their roles in comparing ‘standing’ and ‘sitting’. It was interesting that Sid was not seen as a negative, merely as time when sitting was good. Statements such as “We can only be like Sid at the snack table”, “we need to be like Stan and Sid in the number area” indicate their joint popularity. Children were equally adept at identifying areas one should stand and sit. Reassuringly, children of all ages found some point of contact. One of the older babies said the characters names when they were pointed out; another child kissed the poster of Sid and said “I like him”; whilst another child pointed out that “Stan is best”. The older children viewed the characters as peers, though the younger were less connected. There was also evidence that the children were able to communicate health benefits for themselves. A video was shot of a 3 year old clearly articulating the power of standing up on health.
Coming in the next 8 weeks
A range of new Active Movement components are coming to the nursery from w/c February 9th. • New drawings of Stan and Sid for 0 –2 year olds • Introduction of ‘Max the Dog’ and ‘Tiggy the Cat’ • Special voiceovers of Stan and Sid speaking to the children • Dolls of Stan and Sid • Book of Stan and Sid nursery rhymes • Book of Stan and Sid stories • Book of Stan and Sid songs • Stan and Sid games and puzzles • Upgraded activity programme for staff • New creative material focussing on achievement (distance and calories) • More newsletters and parent communication For more information or if you have any comments, talk to Lisa Weston or contact Peter Savage on 01189 442924 or at firstname.lastname@example.org