Research Evidence

Evidence-Based Research

We know that having appropriate motor skills are important for all children. However, research was informing us that children’s physical and mental health is in decline and that children with poor motor skills:

  • participate less in physical activity
  • are at an increased risk for -
    • obesity
    • type 2 diabetes
    • cardio-vascular disease
  • perceive themselves to be less competent than their peers
    • athletically
    • academically
  • perceive themselves to have fewer friends.

These issues can lead to feelings of low self-worth and may contribute to a child experiencing anxiety and depression.

The question we asked was:

Would a play-based, early intervention program be effective at improving a child’s gross motor, fine motor, and social emotional development?
Healthway funded a 3-year randomised controlled trial research project to find out the answer to this question.

To summarise the findings – children who participated in the Animal Fun Program for 10 weeks showed significant improvement in motor ability and in social/emotional development with a significant decrease in hyperactive and inattentive behaviours when compared to the children in the control schools.

Invest in this program because it has the evidence to support the fact that it really does work!

Peer reviewed publications

To read the full publication please click on the links

De Oliveria, Jorge A., Rigoli, Daniela., Kane, Robert., McLaren, Sue., Goulardins, Juliana B., Straker, Leon M., Dender, Alma., Rooney, Rosanna., Piek, Jan P.
Does 'Animal Fun' improve aiming and catching, and balance skills in young children? Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2018.
PDF [481KB]

Piek, Jan P., Kane, Robert., Rigoli, Daniela., McLaren, Sue., Roberts, Clare M., Rooney, Rosanna., Jensen, Lynn., Dender, Alma., Packer, Tanya., Straker, Leon.
Does the Animal Fun program improve social-emotional and behavioural outcomes in children aged 4-6 years? Human Movement Science, 2015, (43): 155-163.
PDF [824KB]

Piek JP, McLaren S, Kane R, Jensen L, Dender A, Roberts C, Rooney R, Packer T, Straker L
Does the Animal Fun program improve motor performance in children aged 4–6 years? Hum Mov Sci. 2013;32(5):1086-1096.
PDF [557 KB]

Piek, J.P., Straker, L. M., Jensen, L., Dender, A., Barrett, N.P., McLaren, S., Roberts, C., Reid, C., Rooney, R., Packer, T., Bradbury, G., Elsley, S. (2010).
Rationale, design and methods for a randomised and controlled trial to evaluate “Animal Fun” – a program designed to enhance physical and mental health in young children. BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:78