The co-design model in action

This page provides you with an overview of the model we have developed to co-design healthy places with kids.   

Our model is made up of three phases: 

  1. Kids learn about healthy places and the role that their surroundings have in shaping health.
  2. Kids audit their own neighbourhood and the places they use regularly.
  3. Using the audit data, kids participate in a workshop with council staff and/or their teachers to co-design solutions to create healthy places.  

The third phase, the workshop, produces a series of co-designed solutions your council can draw on as it develops its strategy and plan.

The focus for this project is on healthy eating and being active but you can adapt this for use in other areas where you might need to engage kids with a range of council issues.

We’ve developed the model’s phases with upper primary school and lower secondary school kids in mind, but we have also provided some examples for teachers so they can adapt these to enable younger or older kids to engage with the project. 

While you can run this project on your own through your usual community engagement processes, the sections of this website designed for teachers encourage them to connect with you so they can work alongside you on this project. Reach out to local early childhood centres and schools to let them know you are hoping they might participate in this project. 

If you can’t connect with early childhood centres or schools in your area, our toolkit provides audit tools you can use to directly engage kids through your council communication channels.

Getting to know the model

Below we provide you with details about each phase of the model.  All the details and instructions are incorporated into the toolkit builder so you can be sure that kids will have access to everything they need to work through the different phases.  

Introduction: setting the scene

Before launching into the process, we set the scene for kids so they know what they’ll be doing and why. We have provided an explanation of the project and how it connects to local council planning. If they’re old enough, kids can read this introduction for themselves – otherwise, their teachers, parents or carers can talk them through it.  

The simple introductory text tells kids that their local council needs their help. It describes the role councils play in looking after community health and explains that councils prepare a range of plans and strategies, including a Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan which informs how they manage the community’s health over the next few years.   

The text explains that councils want to hear from kids to understand their experiences in the local community. Councils are responsible for providing safe and healthy communities for everyone. Kids’ perspectives are valuable because they highlight particular community features affecting healthy living, features which adults might not see.

This text sets up the project and invites kids to help councils understand how the features of their neighbourhood may affect their healthy eating and being active. 

Phase 1: kids learning about healthy places

After the kids have been introduced to the project, Phase 1 is designed to help them understand how places affect their own and other people’s health.

An animation explains how physical and social features in kids’ neighbourhoods affect healthy eating and being active. The animation will help kids begin to develop the health literacies they’ll need to successfully participate in the project. You can preview this animation here

If kids are doing the project with their teachers, we’ve provided brainstorming activity suggestions and resources to expand on the examples from the animation, so they have a comprehensive list to think about. If kids are doing the project on their own, we have provided some prompts for them to think about as well as a Kids Gallery to give them some initial ideas.

Phase 2: kids auditing their everyday places

The kids now have some understanding about how social and physical environments might impact healthy eating and being active. Their next task is to audit their everyday places. We’ve posed a central question: 

What are the physical and social features of your neighbourhood that might affect healthy eating and being active?

To capture their answers, we’ve supplied three audit options you could get the kids to do. You can choose just one of these, or you can combine them using the toolkit builder.  It is up to you. 

The audits provide ways for kids to collect local data that will help them answer the question above. 

The three audit options are:

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

Data collected from the audits takes the form of:

  • photos
  • animations
  • drawings
  • text
  • digital stories
  • survey results.

Kids will complete and send in their audits or survey responses via links you provide them with (you add these to the toolkit builder on this website).

The data is essential for the overall project as you’ll need to use it in Phase 3: the Kids Co-designing Healthy Places workshop. 

Phase 3: kids co-designing healthy places

Once the kids have completed their audits and you have the data, the next step is for you to host a workshop that gives the kids a chance to review, collate and analyse their data: the photos, drawings, digital stories or survey results.

Ideally, you will be working alongside teachers to do this, though you could certainly do it through other forums instead. You could work with the same kids across all of the phases or you could collect data from one group of kids, via a social media post for example, and then work with a different group in the workshop

At the culmination of the workshop, the kids will produce a set of co-designed solutions that you can consider for your MPHWP or other plans. 

If the data has not been sent directly to you (for example, if the kids’ teacher has led the audit process) you will need to liaise with the teacher to make sure kids have their data ready to share in the workshop. 

If the participating kids have sent their data directly to you, you’ll need to package this to share with them at the workshop.

You’ll find full instructions on how to prepare for and run the workshop, as well as supporting resources, here

What's next?