Making play accessible for all children

Impact story

AllPlay strategies are being rolled out Australia wide to educate teachers, parents and the community on how to provide children equal access to sport, dance and education.

Key facts

  • AllPlay is part of an Australia-wide project to provide equal access to sport, dance and education.
  • It seeks to foster a culture of inclusion within the broader community.
  • The AllPlay platform brings together a world-class multidisciplinary research team from multiple institutes within the University.
  • In 2020, the AllPlay Learn program was the winner of the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards, Community Engagement category.
  • The AllPlay platform was created through funding from the Moose Foundation, NDIA and the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

Allplay

Australian children with disabilities face barriers to sport, dance and education. Deakin’s AllPlay program provides evidence-based resources and training for parents, teachers and children to help focus on the strengths of each individual child through inclusive activities. 

Ensuring that students with disability have inclusive and productive educational experiences is a challenge for education systems across the globe. The one-in-six children with a developmental challenge or disability (i.e., autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, etc.) have a higher risk of developing behavioural, mood and anxiety disorders, as well as poorer educational, social and occupational outcomes.

AllPlay Learn is a pioneering, integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective program within the AllPlay platform. It delivers a suite of online guides, resources, and professional learning courses that help create inclusive education environments.

AllPlay evolved out of the Deakin Child Study Centre, a multidisciplinary research centre that focuses on understanding neurodevelopment in children. The Centre specialises in transforming research into practical means. By developing digital strength- and evidence-based platforms and research programs, they seek to make sports, dance and education fit for all young people. Their programs aim to be culturally sensitive and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.

The AllPlay programs - AllPlay Learn, AllPlay Life and AllPlay Move (Footy and Dance) - are informed by research and co-designed with experts, industry and the community with a focus on children from early childhood to secondary school age with disabilities, their families, educators and teachers, sports coaches, and dance teachers, and health professionals.

Meeting educational and community demand

One in six Australian children live with a disability, developmental challenge, or vulnerability. And they’re likely to face barriers to sport, dance and education as they grow up.

According to a national survey undertaken by AllPlay researchers, communities are eager for more inclusive programs that allow children of all abilities to meaningfully participate. Coaches and teachers in particular are keen to learn about disability and receive guidance around modifying programs and curriculum to give everyone the best possible opportunity to participate.

The AllPlay platform fosters a culture of inclusion on the sporting field, in the dance studio and in the classroom by addressing systemic barriers to these activities. The program identifies existing structures that prevent children with disabilities and developmental challenges from meaningfully engaging in these environments and focuses on supports that can help young people thrive to their full potential.

‘AllPlay is about creating inclusive environments for children, in the sporting field, dance, education, or wherever children are playing and engaging in the community.’ - Professor Nicole Rinehart, lead researcher for the broader AllPlay program.'

Professor Nicole Rinehart

Providing useful and targeted resources

The AllPlay platform provides guides and resources to coaches, teachers, families and children, as well as embedding interventions into the community to encourage inclusive participation.

Evidence-based resources on AllPlay Learn are designed primarily to support early childhood educators and school teachers, but parents, children, health professionals and the broader community may also find them useful. The resources are accessible via the AllPlay Learn website and cover early childhood, primary and secondary education. They can be used in the home, long day care centres, kindergartens and schools.

Focusing on strengths

AllPlay strategies are being rolled out Australia wide to educate teachers, parents and the community on how to provide children equal access to sport, dance and education.

AllPlay Learn’s evidence-based strategies offer guidance to help children transition from early childhood to primary education, and from primary to secondary education. Information about diagnosis is also provided alongside videos, case studies, posters, checklists, animations and other resources. The program covers strategies that address specific behaviours and responses – such as social skills, emotions or sensory needs – which can benefit students who may not have been diagnosed with a specific disability or developmental challenge.

AllPlay Learn intentionally changes the language that is usually associated with disability and developmental challenges. Researchers choose to focus on the strengths of children with each disability, as well as touching on areas where students may need further support from teachers.

The program also provides online professional learning courses for teachers in early childhood, primary and secondary education to complete. They focus on providing evidence-based strategies that teachers can easily implement in the classroom. Teachers can also choose from different lessons within each course to best suit their learning needs.

In 2020, The AllPlay Learn program was the winner of the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards, Community Engagement category.

Collaboration

The AllPlay platform was created with the support of funding from the Moose Foundation since 2016 and the National Disability Insurance Agency between 2016-2018.

The AllPlay Learn program was developed with funding and in partnership with the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

AllPlay brings together a world-class multidisciplinary research team from the Deakin Child Study Centre (DCSC), Research for Educational Impact (REDI), the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A²I²), the School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA), the National Indigenous Knowledges Education Research Innovation (NIKERI) Institute and the Institute for Health Transformation, as well as research innovators and creative developers from the Deakin University commercial spinoff venture, Fika Entertainment.

Professor Nicole Rinehart is the Director of the Deakin Child Study Centre and the AllPlay Founder.

Dr Ana Mantilla is the Director of the AllPlay programs and a senior research fellow at the Deakin Child Study Centre.

Contact details

Professor Nicole Rinehart
View Nicole's Deakin profile
Email Professor Nicole Rinehart
+61 3 9244 5469

Dr Ana Mantilla
View Ana's Deakin profile
Email Dr Ana Mantilla
+61 3 9244 5204