The ISEH and UCL joined forces with Proactive Camden to monitor and evaluate an exciting and innovative physical activity initiative called ‘Camden Active Spaces’ for children and young people and their families.

As background to the project which was funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group and Camden Council through Public Health England, Camden Active Spaces developed and installed innovative structures within schools with the idea of hopefully inspiring young people and their families to become more physically active and healthy. The six Camden Active Spaces were: Acland Burghley Secondary School, Argyle Primary, Carlton Primary, Haverstock Secondary School, Torriano Infants and Juniors and St Dominics Primary and each of the Active Space's were bespoke. From spectacular timber climbing structures and balancing trails to special dance performance and trampolining areas the Camden Active Spaces were designed to inspire local children to get moving more. Two award winning design teams led the design of these developments - Erect Landscapes and LUC (Land Use Consultants) who have both previously worked on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

At Arygle Primary, LUC led a whole school assembly to get the children excited about the new addition to their play area and involve them in creating the best possible play space. The pupils were asked about their favourite type of play and invited to draw pictures of things they’d like to see in their new Active Space. A drop in consultation and engagement workshop was also held for parents and members of the local community.

Dr Mark Hamer and Dr Lee Smith led the evaluation of the Active Spaces which was made possible by a successful joint grant application by UCL and the ISEH to the Economic and Social Research Council and used the ISEH facilities and equipment to carry out their testing, research, monitoring and evaluation.

A paper which outlines a number of findings about the research titled ‘Effect of major school playground reconstruction on physical activity and sedentary behaviour: Camden active spaces’ is now available and can be found here:

Effect of major school playground reconstruction on physical activity and sedentary behaviour: Camden active spaces paper

It concluded that major playground reconstruction had limited effects on physical activity, but reduced sedentary time was observed in younger children. Qualitative data suggested that the children enjoyed the new playgrounds and experienced a perceived positive change in well-being and social interactions.