Movement for all

Celebrating its 50th anniversary the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists has launched an early year’s movement hub, the Starting2Move project, led by senior paediatric physio Jemma Bell

[Illustrations: Hannah Littler-Smith]

Supporting a fairer future from the start of life

On 22 February, the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists’ (APCP) official 50th birthday, the professional network launched an early years inclusive movement hub on its website. This virtual platform, which is part of the association’s ongoing Starting2Move project, aims to share information and resources to support movement for all, from the very beginning of life.

Here, Kerry McGarrity, APCP administrator and an advanced physiotherapy practitioner at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, and project lead Jemma Bell, a senior paediatric physiotherapist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, explain the Starting2Move project, how APCP’s new hub came about, and how it can benefit paediatric patients.

Matter into motion

We know movement and physical activity is important for all of us. We know how we move influences our overall health and wellbeing. Our early movement experiences, and our movement development, is inextricably linked with our other developmental domains. In the first years of life, when we are on a steep learning trajectory, our movement experiences have a huge influence upon our physical, cognitive, language and socio-emotional development.

Importantly, we know that some of us experience greater barriers to positive movement experiences than others. None of us choose our birth characteristics or the situations that we’re born into. APCP is committed to supporting healthy movement for all, from the very beginning of life. APCP hold a wealth of knowledge to contribute to improving population health outcomes and reducing health inequalities – and we need to get better at developing, sharing, and acting on this information. 

The CSP has already produced a number of brilliant campaigns to support movement and physical activity for adults. APCP wanted to share important messages about movement for babies, children and young people. We especially wanted to prioritise support for those of our population that face additional barriers and are often under-served. APCP is committed to promoting a society of inclusion, where everyone from the very beginning of life can enjoy the benefits of movement.

Moving towards a fairer future

[Illustrations: Hannah Littler-Smith]

In 2019, APCP submitted a funding application for a professional network award from the CSP. The majority of that money was for stakeholder engagement events, prioritising and learning from typically under-served communities. We were delighted when we heard this funding bid had been successful and we are extremely grateful to have received this money. We planned various engagement events around the country to listen, learn and amplify the voices of children and their families, and others trying to support them. The project was planned to be completed by summer 2020. However, in March 2020, as you can guess…everything was overturned by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. We all faced unprecedented challenges. Many paediatric physiotherapists, including the project lead, were redeployed into entirely different clinical areas for prolonged periods.   

APCP is committed to supporting healthy movement for all, from the very beginning of life.

When some sense of normality returned, picking up the pieces to progress this project was riddled with complexity. Due to the reduced availability of resources, the process for finishing the project looked very different. However, not all was lost - although it felt like it at the time! We persevered and transformed what we had into generating a resource that would be of value to the public.

We have created a space that provides key early years movement support in the format of:

  1. a brief summary of why early years movement is important.
  2. a variety of practical tips for early years movement.
  3. information on movement concerns.
  4. an early years movement blog.
  5. resources for professionals.
  6. signposting to other resources that support early years. 

We owe huge credit to Hannah Littler-Smith the artist who helped us to bring our messages to life. Furthermore, we are incredibly grateful to paediatric physiotherapist Penny Walsh, Linsday Carr, paediatric occupational therapist, and the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation which shared their Don’t Delay the Play Project with us and contributed an initial bundle of illustrations. Find out more about the Don’t Delay the Play project

[Illustrations: Hannah Littler-Smith]

Moving forwards 

In these difficult times of conflict, Covid complications, the cost-of-living crisis, and industrial action we offer a new platform to build from. It’s far from perfect, however we have tried to work with the motto of ‘not letting perfection get in the way of progress’. For the Starting2Move project, the next steps will be to expand the platform to be inclusive of the entire paediatric population that we serve. 

This is just a small facet of APCP’s work, as you read this article, there are a number of projects ongoing.  APCP has just completed a professional network strategy review that will be published this spring. We will continue to improve the access to credible paediatric physiotherapy information, helping movement from the very beginning of life. In addition, APCP will continue to support our members to provide quality paediatric physiotherapy and share paediatric physio resources.  All these efforts are with a view to reduce the impact of avoidable health inequalities and improve population health. 

Moving together 

The professional network funding from the CSP has given APCP the opportunity to build connections with other organisations which also aim to support early life movement and physical activity. 

These organisations span across health, social, education and charitable networks. We hope to continue to build on these relationships to continue to sustainably grow the Starting2Move project. 

Thank you APCP

[Illustrations: Hannah Littler-Smith]

Fifty years ago, paediatric physiotherapists, led by Ann Mark and Mary Hazelwood, put forward a proposal to form an association in order to provide a forum for physiotherapists working with children, to share ideas, provide appropriate training, and to gain recognition as a specific interest group within the CSP. An inaugural meeting was held at Great Ormond Street Hospital on 22 February 1973; a committee was elected from all regions of the UK.  Moyna Gilbertson was elected as the first chairperson.  Today, we continue to celebrate a strong and supportive APCP membership, empowering our paediatric physiotherapy members to be leaders in their profession.  

We have immense gratitude to those who have come before us, for we have had the fortune of inheriting their wisdom that has allowed us to continue to improve paediatric physiotherapy.  Since its origins, APCP has been a consistent pillar in the advancement of paediatric physiotherapy across the globe. Thank you APCP, and happy 50th anniversary. 

Thank you to all of our colleagues who have built our paediatric physiotherapy network, and those who are still striving to protect and advocate for our next generation.

Your views

All CSP members are invited to give any feedback about APCP’s new platform.

Please get in touch via or if you have any suggestions, however small, on how we can improve our platform or if you have ideas of how we can better support early life movement and physical activity. All feedback will be greatly appreciated. We will be also launching a more specific evaluation via an online survey within the next few months.

Join us  

[Illustrations: Hannah Littler-Smith]

Anyone interested in paediatric physiotherapy is invited to explore our APCP website. We offer various membership options including free membership for students on paediatric placements, monthly rates for rotational physiotherapists (who may not want to commit to an annual membership), as well as discounted membership for international members who come from low and middle income countries. 

We continue to run educational courses for all aspects of paediatric physiotherapy, as well as publishing our journal, regular newsletters and weekly email bulletins. We are delighted to announce that the APCP annual conference returns this year. We hope you can join us at Old Trafford, Manchester, on 20-21 October.

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