High honour for iPLAY

The research team behind an innovative program tackling cardiovascular disease risk in children has been recognised with one of the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia’s (CAPHIA) highest honours.

Developed by Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Positive Psychology and Education and University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, iPLAY has won CAPHIA’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Public Health Education and Research in the Public Health Research Team Award category.

iPLAY is an online physical activity intervention training program for teachers which has been rolled out to almost 200 Australian primary schools.

With Australian children ranked among the least active in the world, encouraging young students to move has never been more important.

iPLAY trains teachers to not only promote physical activity during the school day but also form links with parents and community organisations to help students live active lives outside school.

Thanks to its strong partnerships, more than 3,000 teachers from 188 schools have now received the training, with the program impacting on the health of more than 45,000 students across Australia.

A version of the program is also now being delivered to pre-service teachers, ensuring the next generation of teachers join the workforce with the best training in physical activity promotion.

The award was presented to the iPLAY team at CAPHIA’s annual Teaching and Learning Forum hosted virtually by the University of the Sunshine Coast.

iPLAY co-creators, ACU’s Professor Chris Lonsdale and Professor David Lubans from the University of Newcastle, stressed the importance of partnerships built with the NSW Department of Education, NSW Office of Sport, the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Special Olympics.

“The award recognises the work of lot of great people over quite a long period of time,” Professor Lonsdale said. “But, we hope this is only the start, as we are continuing to grow the program.

“We have a version focused on children with intellectual disabilities that we’re testing right now. We also have plans for a version that targets children with under-developed fundamental movement skills, and we’re getting set to launch a version of iPLAY that is available to teachers worldwide.”

The research team includes ACU’s Dr Taren Sanders, Dr Michael Noetel, and Dr Philip Parker, Professor Philip Morgan (UoN), and Deakin University’s Professor Jo Salmon and Professor Marj Moodie.

iPLAY’s broader team includes ACU project officer Kirsty Bergan, UoN project officer Tara Finn and Timothy Hartwig Diego Vasconcellos, Jane Lee, Devan Antczak, Morwenna Kirwan, Heather McKay, Andrew Bennie, Ronald C. Plotnikoff, Renata Cinelli, David Greene, Louisa Peralta, Dylan Cliff, Gregory Kolt, Jennifer Gore, Lan Gao, James Boyer, Ross Morrison, Charles Hillman, Tatsuya T. Shigeta and Elise Tan, MHealth.

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