Making physical activity visible – informed leadership as an everyday tool

15.10.2021 - 13:30

Gathering wellbeing data on a digital and real-time platform promotes informed leadership and wellbeing work at a grassroots level. The digital platform will be piloted by two primary schools in Kuopio.

According to the study of children’s and young people’s physical behaviour in Finland (LIITU), only one third of children and young people exercise the recommended amount, i.e. at least an hour briskly or strenuously every day. Physical activity decreases and the amount of immobility increases as the child grows. According to the study’s activity meter data, 71 per cent of first-graders move according to recommendations, while only 10 per cent of secondary school children do so.

Janne Hentunen, Director of Wellbeing Promotion in Kuopio, confirms that the phenomenon is also visible in Kuopio. Increasing physical activity promotes the wellbeing of schoolchildren and, for example, their learning outcomes. Therefore, a pilot to promote physical activity will start in two primary schools in Kuopio.

In piloting, an operating model will be developed in which various indicators are used to obtain sufficient information about physical activity during the school day. Information can be used to develop activities that increase physical activity. At the same time, we can find out which measures or conditions promote physical activity and where, in turn, various obstacles or challenges may lie, Hentunen describes.

Information on the daily physical activity of Kuopio residents as well as on other lifestyles and wellbeing factors is also collected through other means in Kuopio. A wellbeing report and plan is being prepared in Kuopio based on the law. The wellbeing report highlights information on the wellbeing of Kuopio residents based on various studies and statistics. The plan, in turn, sets goals and outlines measures to increase the wellbeing of Kuopio residents.

– However, in addition to the wellbeing report, other types of informed leadership tools are also needed. In particular, tools are needed to support practical work. The development work of the Human-Centric Digital Municipality (IDK) project provides support for this, says well-being coordinator Tanja Tilles-Tirkkonen from the City of Kuopio.

Development work began last year in multi-professional working groups. In designing the new concept, service modelling and professionals from Savonia University of Applied Sciences were utilized. The goal is to create a real-time wellbeing portal for the Power BI analytics and reporting platform that gathers together information on the wellbeing from both local and national statistical and data sources. The school physical activity programme puts the strategy into practice, and the wellbeing portal serves as an everyday tool in schools.

The platform provides no individual-level information, but matters are handled at the phenomenon level, describes Jussi Kukkola, the principal of Haapaniemi School. The development work will be piloted in Haapaniemi and Pirtti primary schools.

Making physical activity visible during school days

Schools already possess extensive information on wellbeing, so it is particularly important to bring it together. Among other things, the number of PE-classes, the amount of leisure time activities, the results of school health surveys and the number of students participating in school transport are known. Kuopio also uses the School Day application, through which wellbeing information is collected not only from basic education pupils but also from general upper secondary school students.

– The application is voluntary and its questions are based on research. The questions may concern, for example, whether the pupil has eaten or slept well today, how the school assignments have seemed or how comfortable the pupil has felt at school this week, Kukkola describes.

More real-time and more usable information gathered in one place promotes informed leadership. Informed leadership simply means that decisions are made based on data and meters. From the school pilot of the wellbeing portal, everyone gets a tool that they can make use of in their own daily life and professional role. According to Kukkola, information can be filtered with the desired criteria according to what is to be examined.

– For example, comparisons between a specific region or age group can be made. Or, as principal, I can notice through the platform that more physical activity clubs can be organized in our school and contact the sports associations directly, Kukkola illustrates.

According to Kukkola, the real-time wellbeing portal will also be used by multi-professional cooperation groups of clubs, organizations and schools. The principal hopes that, at some point, the citizens will also gain access to the report.

– The aim is for the wellbeing portal to be a management tool used in everyday life. Individuals can compare themselves to the statistics. Officials, municipal actors and decision-makers, as well as the third sector, can use it to help them make decisions, Kukkola sums up.

Wellbeing is linked all over

The role of the physical activity tool piloted at school lies mainly in prevention. Measurable actions can be taken to have a wider impact not only on the school days but also on the lives of Kuopio residents.

– If, for example, we notice that the parents take their children to school by car even if the school journeys are short, we must begin to clarify why this is the case. Is the school journey safe? Can the light traffic routes be developed? asks Kukkola.

Parents are particularly interested in the safety of the school journeys. And as we begin to develop light traffic routes, wellbeing will become directly linked to the urban planners’ work desk.

– If, on the other hand, we compare the physical activity during breaks at different schools and it is lower in some schools, again we have to consider why. The development of school premises and courtyards requires money and resources, so once again wellbeing is also connected to other sectors, Kukkola continues.

Director of Wellbeing Promotion, Hentunen, agrees and confirms that the purpose of all these measures is to become the capital of a good life. The goal of the Happy and Healthy Kuopio 2030 programme is to systematically invest in the prevention of wellbeing challenges.

– This school pilot is thus a particularly important tool not only for the operational work of schools but also for decision-makers and officials, as they in their professional capacity build the best living environment for Kuopio residents, Tilles-Tirkkonen says. Information from this platform which will be developed for school use can also be derived to support decision-making.

Hentunen continues by stating that the intention is to build together solutions that best meet the needs of local residents. Active people are usually also active in the field of influencing, so Hentunen thinks that it is important to involve people whose needs may still remain undiscovered.

– In this way, it is possible to create operating models and environments as well as services that can be used to better promote the health and wellbeing of the residents. So feel free to give feedback to the city. The best feedback channel is the nearest one, that is, for example, the school in the case of schoolchildren, Hentunen encourages.

The Human-Centric Digital Municipality (IDK) project (1.1.2020-31.12.2022) is funded by the European Social Fund, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the City of Kuopio, and the Savonia University of Applied Sciences.

(Wellbeing report – visualisation on constantly gathering and prosessing data)

Text: Oodia/Heta Jyrälä

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