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Innovative playground research released

The long-term evaluation of an innovative, cost-effective school playground project that could encourage the education community to move beyond conventional school playgrounds has just been released by former researchers from the University of Ballarat.

The data collection for this research was conducted whilst researchers Brendon Hyndman and Associate Professor Amanda Telford were based at the University of Ballarat in collaboration with RMIT University Senior Lecturer Dr Amanda Benson.

The work also has been published in the latest issue of the Australian Journal of Teacher Education.

“The Lunchtime Enjoyment Activity and Play (LEAP) school playground intervention, conducted in a Ballarat Primary School, consisted of introducing movable and recycled materials generally not considered usual school play materials for students,” Dr Hyndman said.

“Examples of the materials included milk crates, swimming noodles, buckets, cardboard boxes and tyre tubes.”

The LEAP intervention effects were measured in phases over a two and a half year period.

“The findings suggest that the LEAP intervention could be implemented and maintained for at least a two and a half year period and be adopted by primary schools as a successful alternative to conventional school playgrounds,” Dr Hyndman said.

“Cost-effectiveness, diversity, sustainability and positive individual and social level engagement were major factors facilitating the success of the LEAP intervention and could be further developed on a wider scale in schools to enhance the ‘informal curriculum’ during school breaks.”

“As the materials are readily accessible within the home and neighbourhood, the researchers also suggest teachers could encourage students to play with these items at home to enhance the transfer of physical activity behaviour from school to home settings.”

This research encourages the education community to reconsider how school playgrounds are developed and the range of multi-dimensional benefits on students’ development that can be achieved from introducing such an intervention.

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