Adaptation and evaluation of a nutrition and physical activity program for early childhood education settings in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote Far North Queensland

Kirby Murtha, Kani Thompson, Phoebe Cleland, Danielle Gallegos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Issue addressed: Good nutrition, physical activity and adequate sleep are essential for the healthy growth and development of young children. Due to complex cultural, historical, social factors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children face additional challenges to optimal health, particularly in remote areas of Australia. ‘Learning, Eating, Active Play and Sleep’ (LEAPS) was a Queensland‐wide professional development program designed to support early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators to implement and reinforce healthy nutrition and physical activity in their services. This article describes the adaptation, implementation and evaluation of LEAPS for remote ECEC settings in Cape York.

Methods: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group was commissioned to provide advice about the appropriateness of the existing program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ECEC settings. Based on the advice of the Reference Group, the program was adapted for use in Cape York and was evaluated using the RE‐AIM framework and a combination of data sources. Quantitative data provided information about changes to participant knowledge and confidence regarding nutrition and physical activity and in‐depth interviews allowed further insights into enablers and challenges for successful program implementation.

Conclusion: A tailored LEAPS program increased participants' knowledge and confidence regarding nutrition and physical activity in ECEC settings. The importance of community consultation, building relationships and face‐to‐face delivery of training were highlighted as key enablers. The evaluation identified a number of challenges relating to competing priorities, limited support for ongoing implementation and adoption of improved practices.

So what?: Poor nutrition and growth in children in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities indicates the need for the ongoing commitment to and investment in nutrition and physical activity across a range of community settings. To achieve success, this requires a dedicated preventative health workforce supporting evidence‐informed, coordinated programs driven by community priorities and developed via community development approaches.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Early online date23 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

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