Hello, council staff

Welcome to Kids Co-designing Healthy Places. We’ve built this website and toolkit to help you co-design healthier environments in partnership with kids in your community. This co-design process can inform the development of your plans and strategies, including your Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan. 

Being active and eating well are critical health priority areas to ensure kids get the best start in life. Kids Co-designing Healthy Places focuses on local environments’ impact on these priorities. 

Perhaps you’re already consulting children and young people in this way. Embracing co-design augments this with a powerful set of tools that will strengthen your plans and strategies and create meaningful change for kids in your community. 

Why co-design?

Co-design, also known as participatory design or cooperative design, treats everyday users as experts in the design of the processes, services or objects that affect them. You can watch a short introductory video from VicHealth and read about co-designing with young Victorians here.

Co-designing with kids, which we propose in this project, leans into their views and expertise to enhance the health of our communities. It’s as simple as saying that if we’re designing for kids then we need to get some kids to help design the solutions. And further, kids can offer great feedback about whether a project is working or what might be improved along the way. 

How will the process work?

This website will support you to work with kids in your council area and conduct a co-design process with them. Since you’ll be working with kids, we would suggest connecting with local schools. We’ve also provided support for teachers to embed this project into their curriculum. There are mutual benefits for both councils and teachers – we’re encouraging teachers in schools and early childhood services to reach out to you, and you to them. 

The kids will work through the co-design process in three phases:

  1. Kids learning about healthy places 
  2. Kids auditing their neighbourhood
  3. Kids co-designing solutions for creating healthy places

The toolkit builder at the heart of the site provides you with resources to support kids to learn about healthy places and to audit their neighbourhood. Audit options include:

  • a quick audit
  • a digital story audit
  • a survey.

You can adapt or combine these tools to suit your purposes. You can check the audit options out here. You can also see some examples of kids' audit data in our Kids Gallery here.

Once the kids have done their audits, they’ll submit their findings to you. During the workshops, together you’ll review the data and co-design an action plan.

Before we look at the ins and outs of the project, read on to find out more about co-design and what it offers your planning processes. 

What are some of the benefits of co-design for councils?

In recent years, government, education and industry bodies have embraced co-design because it produces outcomes that reflect the real needs and experiences of communities. Communities like co-design because they are empowered to contribute in meaningful ways. This builds trust between stakeholder groups and a willingness and capacity to engage in innovation.

Co-design offers a range of additional benefits for councils:

  • It is a powerful source of new ideas coming directly from the people who use their services and facilities.
  • It offers a deeper understanding of community needs.
  • It allows a local council to immediately validate ideas and concepts.
  • It can deliver higher quality, better differentiated products, services or solutions.
  • It enables more-efficient democratic decision making.
  • It encourages better cooperation between people and organisations and across disciplines.
  • It has been shown to generate a higher degree of community engagement, activity and satisfaction. 
  • It increases support and enthusiasm for innovation and change.
  • It fosters better relationships between councils and the people in the community.

VicHealth provides information on co-design practice and resources for health and wellbeing planning. We have also listed a range of resources on this website that you may find helpful.

Co-design supports good local government policy

Following co-design processes can help your organisation align with key strategic directions for local government, including: 

What’s next?

You now know what co-design is, what some of its benefits are and how it might help you as you develop your MPHWP or other strategies. The next step is to put it into action.