A Summer of Research Down Under
In September 2014 Dr Kelly Mackintosh applied for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship Grant. The Churchill Travelling Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for UK citizens, from all backgrounds and every corner of the UK, to acquire innovative ideas abroad.
The Fellowships receive over 1,200 applications every year and award only 100 Fellowships annually. Applying for a spot in the Science, Technology and Innovation category, Dr Mackintosh was one of the 240 applicants to be short-listed for interview.
After a successful interview Kelly was awarded the fellowship to travel to Australia to work with Associate Professor Michael Rosenberg at the University of Western Australia and Dr Nicky Ridgers at Deakin University.
The aim of the fellowship was to build on research links in Australia and pass on the knowledge gained for the wider benefit of others in the UK. The aim of Kelly’s specific fellowship was to explore the measurement and visualisation of children’s physical activity levels.
Before leaving for Australia Kelly completed a lot of work so that the time she spent ‘down under’ wasn’t wasted. Her study focused around the UK’s government guidelines for children’s activity asking “Is 60 minutes moderate-to-vigorous physical activity really enough for our children?” and “Even if it is; how do we get them and their parents/guardians to understand how much it is they need to do, let alone actually do it?”
She set off on her journey in the hope that the measurement workshops with Professor Michael Rosenberg at the University of Western Australia (UWA) would reveal answers to such questions.
Throughout the trip Kelly travelled down the coast attending several meetings organised by UWA’s Health Promotion Evaluation Unit collecting and exchanging data on children’s movement. They looked, in particular, at how much energy doing particular movements cost our bodies and on knowing this they would be able to relate the different images to the government guidelines.
From Albany to Perth and then on to Melbourne and Dr Nicky Ridgers at Deakin University where Kelly presented her research at two separate seminars to C-PAN (Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition) and HSD (School of Health and Social Development).
This enabled discussions between colleagues based at Deakin University about how the UK could better interpret the levels of children’s physically activity levels and health.
With knowledge gained through this trip and a solid relationship built between Swansea and Deakin University Kelly has come back to the UK with the long-term aim of enabling children to understand what behaviours lead to them either meeting or failing to meet the government’s 60 minutes a day of physical activity guidelines.