KIDDO at Swifts Creek

That’s what physical activity should be for children in their early years, and KIDDO provides exactly that. With Funding from Gippsland Primary Health Network (GPHN) and under the Make your Move initiative, GippSport has been able to deliver KIDDO across East Gippsland since the program began in January 2021.

The core focus of KIDDO is on physical literacy and a child’s fundamental movement skills (FMS). Stability, locomotor, and object control make up FMS and learning these as a child can have a significant impact on the rest of their life; they are the building blocks necessary for the development of more specialised complex skills used in play, games, sports, and physical recreation activities. Specialized academics in Exercise and Sports Science at the School of Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia developed this formula back in 2014 and have been able to impact over 12,000 children with their vision of improving physical literacy in children from birth to eight years.

The program has enhanced the development of children’s physical literacy while building confidence, skills, and knowledge that a child can benefit from, for life. For 2022 we’ve been able to visit many locations including Swifts Creek Early Childhood Development Centre (SCECDC), where we’ve successfully run a full term of KIDDO and seen great joy and improvement from the children participating.

The Story of KIDDO at Swifts Creek

The SCECDC is situated along the Great Alpine Road in the High Country. The small community-focused town has faced numerous challenges in recent history, from bushfires to the dreaded pandemic. Due to the recent inconsistency in being able to attend childcare, school, and sporting events, children have become less physically active, leading to more complex issues within society and our healthcare system. GPHN data states that 10.9% of children in Gippsland are considered vulnerable to emotional development before starting school, and the 2021 KIDDO Fundamental Movement Skill Report shows that 6.5% of children in Victoria show low movement proficiency.

With this data in mind, GippSport was able to provide a program that enhanced peer connection and resilience, whilst fostering relationships between carer and child by focusing on:

Increasing the physical activity levels of children

Increasing social inclusion and social connection opportunities for children

Increasing the levels of physical literacy in children with a focus on 2–5-year-olds through the provision of a thorough framework and delivery of programming

KIDDO in the High Country is a result of the East Gippsland Primary Care Partnership (EGPCP) facilitated HEAL Network. HEAL stands for Healthy Eating Active Living and brings together key organisations in East Gippsland that work in health promotion and physical activity. KIDDO was being discussed at a HEAL Network meeting and it was identified by an Omeo District Health Promotion staff member, that it would be a benefit to the children of Swifts Creek.

In Term 4 2021 we ran a severely Covid-impacted program, comprised of seven sessions across the term. The sessions were delivered thanks to the generosity of Swifts Creek P-12 School, who enabled us to use their facilities for delivery. Despite the intermittent nature of the sessions due to Covid, we were able to engage with the community, provide them with an opportunity to see KIDDO in action, and see the potential benefits of the program if it could be delivered without interruptions. It was at this program that the local Swifts Creek ECDC Coordinator asked how the program could be implemented during the daytime and how it would look, being hosted at their facility.

By Term 2 2022 we were running the KIDDO program every Tuesday morning at Swifts Creek where we were able to engage with nine children and improve their basic movement skills, knowledge around being active and confidence to engage in new games and activities and interact with their peers.

The Results

For Term 2, Swifts Creek ECDC’s focal point was teaching kicking and balancing skills. We commenced the first week of term and performed individual movement assessments on six children that attended every session of the term-long program. We measured their kicking distance and how long they could balance on each leg; these skills were tested again at the end of term to measure the children’s progression.

Over nine weeks of structured delivery, the KIDDO program resulted in increased engagement and confidence from the children, with post-testing of their focus FMS skills (kicking and balancing) increasing in 100% of the children when compared to their pre-test benchmarks. On average, we saw the children’s kicking ability increase by 3.5 metres and balance improve by 9.5 seconds.

Now that the KIDDO Program has documented, evidence-based outcomes in East Gippsland, we have gained interest from surrounding communities to begin facilitation of KIDDO at the Omeo High Country Early Learning Centre as well as hosting regular community-based sessions at Paynesville. GippSport will continue working with Swifts Creek into Term 3, focusing on running and throwing.

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