Hello, teachers

Welcome to Kids Co-designing Healthy Places. We’ve built this website and toolkit so that Victorian early childhood centres and primary and secondary schools can get their students involved in designing healthy neighbourhoods.

You’re encouraged to do this project alongside local councils as they develop community plans and strategies, including their Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans.

The project offers teachers and kids a stimulating, pedagogically innovative project with lots of learning outcomes connected to the curriculum.

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.

In education, co-design fosters cooperation between young people, teachers and leadership teams, and external agencies. Co-designing with students has been successfully applied in Australian and international schools to develop better learning environments and create new and more responsive curricula. 

The key principle of co-design – to deliver effective, user-oriented service through collaboration – aligns with core educational policy and practices. Well-facilitated co-design empowers kids and ensures they have a voice in decisions affecting them. 

How will the process work?

This resource will help you connect with your local council. Council staff will be keen to connect with schools and early childhood facilities as they prepare their plans and strategies for the community, including their legislated Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan. 

Kids will work through the co-design process, which involves 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 gives you three main audit tools that primary and secondary students can work with:

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

As these tools are designed for primary and secondary aged kids, early childhood teachers are instead encouraged to use a narrative model that is described here.

There are mutual benefits for both councils and teachers – we’re encouraging your local government authority to reach out to you, and you to them.

Before we look at the ins and outs of the model and toolkit, read on to find out more about co-design and what it offers your curriculum and teaching practice.

In early childhood education

Co-designing with young children can enhance their learning and development and also leads to better designed services and programs which affect them. In two examples, children’s photographs of their preferred spaces at a preschool were used to develop an understanding of their world before planning a new space, and preschoolers used picture cards with storylines to help construct their ideas in designing new technology.Co-design offers additional benefits in early childhood settings:

  • It provides teachers with rich insights into young children’s lived experiences and informs decision making.
  • It supports children's meaning making and their ability to exchange thoughts and ideas.
  • It builds on children’s natural strengths and curiosity.
  • It enhances teachers’ creative thinking and innovation.
  • It can shift intrinsic power balances between teachers, children and external agencies.

Following co-design processes can also help your organisation align with key early childhood policies and documents, including:

In primary and secondary schools

Co-design connects with a number of teaching approaches used in schools, including inquiry-based learning, collaborative learning approaches, student voice and critical and participatory pedagogies.

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

  • It allows students to experience greater buy-in and ownership, in their learning and towards the school environment.
  • In turn, it can increase students’ motivation to learn.
  • It allows for a greater range of ideas to be explored, which often leads to innovative designs and problem solving. 
  • It helps teachers and other adults better understand the key issues affecting young people and how they interpret and understand these issues. 

Following co-design processes can also help your school align with key educational policies and documents, including:

What’s next?

You now know what co-design is and what some of its educational benefits are. The next step is to read about how to put it into action