Program Director and Facilitator
Email: [email protected]
I first became involved with the Animal Fun program in mid 2009 as the Research Coordinator for the Healthway funded randomised controlled trial into the effectiveness of the program. I managed the research team and personally tested over 500 children in a range of measures to assess their motor skills, social skills, and self-perception. I have also co-authored our peer reviewed published papers on the program and our research findings. In 2016 Curtin University granted me the license to the Animal Fun program. I am looking forward to the opportunity of sharing our program with you and explaining how Animal Fun can help to resolve some of the issues you may be facing with the children in your care.
The Perfect Opportunity
Most of my working life has been about putting theory into practice - sharing knowledge and best practice to make a real difference in the lives of children and their parents. I was very interested in finding out more about early intervention and so when I received a call from Emeritus Professor Jan Piek in 2009 inviting me to join the Animal Fun Project I jumped at the chance. Here was a program which was seeking to improve the motor skills and social skills of young children in the pre-school years to ensure that they were physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the demands of formal schooling.
At the completion of the research, I was thrilled to discover that our program showed great results. We were able to demonstrate that yes, the Animal Fun program did improve the motor skills and social skills of young children and was also shown to have a significant impact on inattention and hyperactive behaviours.
All that remained was to translate these research findings into practice!
I knew from the Research Project that the teachers and the children really loved the Animal Fun Program, and our results provided the evidence of its effectiveness all that was needed now was to get the word out there.
The research team was very supportive of my desire to develop what was little photocopied handbook into a set of useful resources and the Mental Health Commission of Western Australia also saw the merit in developing the project into a program to be used in Early Childhood Education - Kindergartens, Pre-Schools, Child Care Centres and as a useful tool for parents and those in allied health professions working with young children and provided us with a small grant to assist with the development of the resources have today.
Since 2012, I have been busy spreading the word about Animal Fun - presenting at national and international conferences, conducting workshops and seminars. We are now in over 2000 schools/centres around Australia and internationally.
Qualifications and Industry Memberships
- Bachelor of Social Science (Children & Family Studies)
- Member of Golden Key National Honours Society
- Member of Early Childhood Australia
- Executive Committee Member of WA Health Promoting Schools Association (Inc)
- Member of the International Motor Development Research Consortium
The Program Development and Research Team - Curtin University
- Emeritus Professor Jan Piek
- Associate Professor Clare Roberts
- Associate Professor Rosanna Rooney
- Professor Leon Straker
- Dr Lynn Jensen
- Professor Tanya Packer
- Dr Alma Dender
International Colleagues - Italy
Dr Francesca Policastro
Email: [email protected]
Dr Francesca Policastro is a movement-passionate physiotherapist, and one of the translators of the Italian edition of Animal Fun, with Stefania Zoia and Marina Biancotto. Her interests include the treatment of paediatric diseases, for this she is focusing her clinical practice on children and adolescence, through a functional motor approach. She has introduced Animal Fun in her practice, and in different Italian schools, achieving excellent results and involvement of children and teachers. Her expertise also includes an international cooperation, where she had introduced Animal Fun, as support of the psychomotor development for children in low/middle-income countries.
Francesca holds a Neuroscience and Cognitive Science PhD, and has been lecturer in the Physiotherapy degree at University of Trieste. She is a certified trainer for Animal Fun in Italy.
For further information about Animal Fun in Italy please contact Dr Policastro at: [email protected]