07 Nov 2018, Meredith Jones Russell
The school used a €5,000 grant from the It’s Great Out There Coalition, which promotes outdoor activity in Europe, to buy 85 activity trackers for its Year 1 and 2 children to wear over the summer term.
The trackers by Finnish company ReimaGO are used by nurseries and schools in Finland.
They measure the intensity and duration of children's movement, motivate them to be more active and support active play.
Children wore the ReimaGO trackers every school day during the three month period.
The trackers, which were placed in pockets or worn on wristbands, recorded an average of two hours and 50 minutes of activity per day among children at Rosendale.
Children’s most active time was between 12 noon and 1pm, and the highest daily level they reached was four-and- a quarter hours as they got closer to the end of the study.
Movement sensors on the trackers were able to track the duration and intensity of physical activity.
The data was then turned into ‘energy’ for a virtual character in a game on an app. The more children move the better they do in playing the game, which encourages them to be more active.
The app can be downloaded by parents and teachers on their mobile phone or tablet to help them follow children’s activity levels, keep an activity log and set goals.
According to the World Health Organisation’s recommendations, children should take part in at least one hour of physical activity a day.
Doug Cranston, head of physical activity and sport at Rosendale Primary School, who led the project, said, ‘I have been so surprised at just how responsive the children have been to this study. They’ve been very excited to be part of something. We now have empirical data on its effectiveness and going forwards hope to build on this with future year groups.’
The trackers will stay with Rosendale Primary School for future Year 1 and 2 children to use as part of the prerequisites of the grant.
The project at Rosendale Primary School followed a similar pilot study conducted by ReimaGO at Hafren Junior School in Powys in 2017, in which 70 children from Years 5 and 6 wore the trackers both at school and at home over a period of six weeks. Children in that project averaged 22 hours of activity a week, or four hours per day.
Mikko Linnaluoma, ReimaGO’s programme manager, said the company was looking for other schools and nurseries to partner with on similar projects, adding, ‘ReimaGO isn’t about monitoring heart rate or calorie counting; it’s about encouraging an active lifestyle from an early age. We can’t stop children being interested in technology. But we can encourage its use for the right, healthy reasons. By linking outdoor activity to a mobile app, children respond well. We’re incredibly encouraged by these results.’
Year 1 teacher at Rosendale Primary School Jo Stainton said, ‘I have worked with kids who are unhappy, unhealthy, aren’t engaged in their learning and the difference when kids are active is huge. You do get so much more out of them. They’re much more responsive, they are interested and they are happy and obviously that’s the most important part of it.’
Watch children from Rosendale Primary taking part in the project here: