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Evaluating the effects of loose parts play on physical activity in school children

The findings of our research from Wrexham Council’s first Play Sufficiency Assessment had resulted in a recommendation to improve the opportunities for play children had in Schools. Alongside this there was wider growing interest in the potential impact of introducing loose parts play to school play times. As a consequence a partnership agreement was drawn up between Wrexham Local Authority and Glyndwr University and we, together with other colleagues, went about developing and delivering a research project.

The main objective was to establish the effects of a loose parts play intervention on children’s physical activity levels during school play times. Using heart rate monitors and accelerometers activity levels were measured in 88 children across six primary schools.  All children were exposed to two conditions, normal play-time (as would usually occur in school) and play times with loose parts, facilitated by playworkers. Every child’s physical activity levels were then measured across three sessions of each. The results of this research have been of significant influence in helping to ensure more children get to play more of time, in particular increasing girl’s participation in play whilst having no negative effect on boy’s participation. Furthermore the results have been important in helping Wrexham make the case for further development work in support of children’s play in schools.

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