An Experiential Learning Program to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity at an Australian Children’s Museum: Formative Research with Caregivers and Staff

Publication Name

American Journal of Health Education


Background: Healthy eating (HE) and physical activity (PA) are essential for children’s health and well-being. Innovative approaches, informed by formative research, are crucial to promoting these behaviors. Experiential learning, involving active, hands-on approaches, may be an effective way to encourage healthy behaviors in children. Children’s museums could contribute to health education by providing a variety of educational opportunities. Purpose: To inform the design of an experiential learning Healthy Living program for children at an Australian children’s museum. Methods: A qualitative study involving focus group discussions with 23 caregivers and in-depth interviews with 6 staff were conducted to explore perceptions of caregivers and staff working in an Australian children’s museum (Discovery Space) relating to potentially effective experiential learning strategies for promoting children’s healthy behaviors. Data were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed in NVivo 12. Results: Key considerations for promoting HE and PA children through experiential learning activities include involving caregivers, engaging children through processes such as providing choice and stimulating curiosity, and selecting appropriate activity types such as simple, engaging, fun, hands-on, sensory play, and music-based activities. Translation to Health Education Practice: Experiential learning activities that address these key considerations can promote HE and PA in children and should be studied in future studies. Competencies and sub-competencies in two areas of responsibility, (I) Assessment of Needs and Capacity and (V) Advocacy, were addressed.

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