Curtin University researchers have been awarded the 2017 Dr Louisa Alessandri Research Grant to roll out a free app to help Western Australian children with disabilities access leisure activities in their local communities.
Lead researcher Professor Catherine Elliott, from the School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work at Curtin University, said the research aimed to promote community-based recreation among children and young people with disabilities to improve their health and wellbeing.
Professor Elliott said the research-informed app, named Jooay, would be implemented in consultation with key stakeholders, including people with disabilities and their families. Curtin University researchers are collaborating with the Canadian creators of Jooay, the Childhood Disability LINK, to add an Australian arm to the app.
“In Australia, seven per cent of all children aged up to 17 years have a disability and many of those children have difficulty participating in leisure activities in their communities,” Professor Elliott said.
“Children with a disability, their parents and clinicians have told us that not having access to or being aware of opportunities to participate in activities was a major barrier for them.
“This app will deliver a practical solution to break down those barriers and benefit the lives of children and young people with disabilities by helping them take part in community-based leisure activities.
“Importantly, this research directly involves the design and delivery of supports and services to people with disabilities, by people with disabilities as they will play a key role in providing feedback in the app’s development.”
The grant will fund the development and maintenance of the app as well as the creation of a community inventory of more than 1000 potential leisure activities across WA, including metropolitan, regional and remote areas.
Professor Elliott said there were numerous positive physical, psychological and social benefits of children and young people taking part in leisure activities.
“We expect these benefits to ultimately result in a better quality of life for children and young people with disabilities across the state,” she said.
The grant was presented by Disability Services Minister, the Hon Stephen Dawson, at an event on Curtin’s Bentley Campus on 28 June 2017.