The world-first program re-framing the way children learn by moving more and sitting less.
Developed by experts from Deakin’s Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Transform-Us! is a whole-of-school approach to physical activity promoting movement throughout the day.
This world-first program is designed to re-frame the way children learn by moving more and sitting less. Currently available to all Victorian Primary Schools, it is the culmination of over 12 years of Deakin University research.
Transform-Us! uses innovative behavioural, educational and environmental strategies to increase children’s movement and reduce sitting throughout the school day.
The program has been developed in alignment with the Australian and Victorian curriculum and provides online professional development, full lesson plans, short videos and other supporting resources to all Victorian teachers and school leaders who register.
Encouraging physical activity through changing delivery, not content
Finding ways to incorporate movement into everyday lessons – so the delivery of the lesson changes, not the content – is integral to the program’s success. Lead researcher Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon says, “the program has been designed to make moving the norm throughout the day.
“It includes creating a supportive class room environment (e.g., making novel activity equipment readily available in the classroom), incorporating Active Lessons (e.g., active maths) and Active Breaks (e.g., stand and discuss lesson content) as a way of breaking up prolonged periods of sitting during class and to help keep children alert and focused.”
Transform-Us! also encourages teachers to include a standing or moving component within homework, such as completing reading homework standing up, or involving a family walk to complete a science challenge.
Increase activity, reduce sitting and risks to health
In 2011–2012, the Australia Bureau of Statistics reported that only 9% of boys and 8% of girls aged 5–17 years in Australia meet both physical activity and sedentary guidelines every day.
On a typical school day, Australian children spend more than two-thirds of their day sitting.
There is evidence to suggest that prolonged sitting and sedentary behaviour puts children at risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Regular physical activity can boost fitness, heart, bone and mental health. It can also improve cognitive development and lead to better academic results.
As a large part of a child’s day, school-based programs can play a significant role in increasing physical activity levels in all children.
“We need to help children accumulate more activity every day and reduce their sitting and we’ve shown that Transform-Us! can make quite a big impact,” says Professor Salmon.
“Governments and policy-makers are starting to realise that we need to take action to reduce children’s sedentary time. Given the significant risk associated with too much sedentary time, we can’t afford to do nothing.”
Trials show impressive results in Victorian primary schools
Transform-Us! Is available to all Victorian primary schools, with over 900 teachers currently registered. Trials have revealed significant improvements in a number of health measurements.
Transform-Us! was originally tested in a rigorous two-and-a-half-year randomised controlled trial in 20 primary schools across Melbourne with more than 220 teachers and 1,600 students.
The program offered a whole-of-school approach to moving more and sitting less, with full lesson plans and ideas that require minimal equipment and teacher preparation.
The trial yielded impressive results including a 62-minute reduction in sitting time per day compared to traditional lessons.
Results also showed an average increase in daily physical activity of five minutes, lower Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure, along with evidence of higher vitamin D levels.
In 2017, with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and VicHealth saw Transform-Us! made available to every Victorian primary school to access for free.
To date, Transform-Us! is in more than 300 Victorian Primary schools and over 900 teachers have signed up. Transform-Us! recently secured a further five years of funding under the NHMRC Investigator Grant scheme.
Transform-Us! will expand into tertiary education and secondary schools with further resource s developed and the provision of professional development for teachers of students with a disability.
A Transform-Us! teacher from a regional Victorian primary school explains: “We now look for opportunities in every lesson to move – whether that be brain breaks, standing lessons, going outside to learn in the fresh air…We have found students are so much more engaged in a lesson when they get the chance to move their bodies.”
Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon holds a Personal Chair and is Director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University. Check out this profile to learn more about her research.