A new digital animation designed to get children moving in their classrooms is proving a real hit with schools across Cardiff and the Vale.

QuickChange, which was developed by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Podiatry Team in collaboration with the Local Public Health Team, aims to engage four to six-year-olds in daily physical activity to aid healthy development of their foot and ankle muscles.  

Led by a range of colourful cartoon characters, the fun interactive animation gets children performing a series of strengthening and stretching exercises without the need for additional equipment or a change of clothes.

Five bilingual primary schools in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan agreed to take part in a pilot where Reception and Year 1 pupils would perform the routine every day over the course of a week.

The reaction from the children was positive, with 84% of participants responding with a ‘happy face’ rather than a ‘sad face’ at the end of the trial. Teachers involved have also praised the eight-minute video and the way it fits into the new school curriculum.

One school which has benefited from QuickChange is Pendoylan CIW Primary in the Vale of Glamorgan. “The children have responded really well to the animation,” explained Year 1 teacher Jo Knill-Jones.

“They are engaged, they really enjoy doing it, and they especially love the QuickChange superhero pose. I’m asked daily by the children ‘Are we doing QuickChange today?’ which is fab.

“It fits into the new curriculum well because the area of health and wellbeing promotes physical activity, improving energy and mood levels. QuickChange encompasses all of those things. The video is short, sharp and helps in the development of the children’s feet and overall physical ability.”

Find out more about QuickChange in this video:

Childhood obesity is becoming more common in Wales and, without intervention, will result in an increase in the prevalence of a wide range of chronic conditions in adulthood such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal conditions.

Podiatrist Stephen Coombs, who played a key part in the creation of QuickChange, said: “After spending 30 years in podiatry, every decade I’ve seen children getting less fit, less mobile and less stable on their feet. We thought it would be a good idea to take some of the exercises we use in the clinic and get them into schools so it doesn’t lead to problems in the long-term.

“This won’t solve the whole problem, but it will help and be a useful aid to encouraging more physical activity. It was a real team effort to get the project going and there was a real learning process for us in trying to get this right, but we’re really pleased with the animation and the feedback has been great from children and teachers. A lot of them want to continue with it.

“The aim is to get this into every school in Wales so all children aged four to six can have fun-filled exercise time. If they can’t do the Daily Mile because of the weather, they can do QuickChange in class. A focus on prevention has to be the way forward for the benefit of future generations.”  

QuickChange was first set up in 2019 with Stephen Coombs and Lauren Idowu in Cardiff and Vale UHB’s Local Public Health Team. Podiatrist Jo Wrigley then worked closely with Public Health Practitioner Martha-Jane Powell to further develop the idea, once funding was established, and help introduce it to schools, with Nia Jones reviewing the research brief.

New members to join the team include podiatrist Charlotte Holley and physiotherapists Sharon Hortop and Laura Morgan, who will help develop new exercises to ensure the project is continually evolving.

The collaborative project was showcased to a wide range of health, education and technology professionals at October’s Spread and Scale Academy at the Dragon’s Heart Institute in Cardiff. It has also won two awards in 2023 – one at the UKPHR Conference for Improving Public Health Practice in Reducing Health Inequalities (read more about that here), and one for best poster presentation at the MSK Innovations Conference.

The schools involved in the QuickChange pilot were Pendoylan CIW Primary, Adamsdown Primary, St Philip Evans Primary, Ysgol Y Berllan Deg and Palmerston Primary. The next stage will be to roll out the daily use of the QuickChange animation across all schools within Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan.

To see the full QuickChange animation, please go here.

Bryn Kentish
Written by:
Bryn Kentish