“Active Children by Design” is a cross-disciplinary research project that aims to provide urban designers and policy-makers with transformative, evidence-based urban planning guidelines to design neighbourhood built environments aimed to improve children’s physical activity levels leading to sustainable cities and communities. The research team includes researchers from Architecture (Northumbria University), City and Regional Planning (Middle East Technical University) and Development Psychology (Northumbria University). This project is supported by the British Academy’s Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges Programme, under Grant TGC\200140.


BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY _ In recent decades, many developing countries, including Turkey, have seen an increased physical inactivity among children. This has important implications for child health conditions such as mental wellbeing, obesity; and air quality and traffic. While there is ample research highlighting the role of the built environment in encouraging increased physical activity (PA) levels among school children; there is limited evidence on children’s preferences and experiences regarding their place use and PA in their local neighbourhoods and implications for mental wellbeing.


AN INTEGRATED METHODOLOGY _ Drawing upon the socio-ecological model of health behaviour, this study utilizes a child-centred approach and mixed-methods design to (1) Investigate the extent to which neighbourhood built environment is related to PA among 9-12 year-old children; (2) Identify how children living in different neighbourhoods (varying in their street network connectivity and greenness) of Ankara, Turkey perceive, assess and use their environments; and (3) Explore the extent to which children’s PA rates are associated with their mental wellbeing.


SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY _ Meeting the above-listed aims is important for several reasons:

1. A greater insight into children’s perceptions about and use of their home neighbourhood will inform urban planners, designers and health professionals on how to develop and implement more effective behaviour change interventions; specifically, to enable physically and socially active children and communities. 
2. Through this integrated methodology the findings of this study can contribute to the existing PA literature as well as to the evidence informing solutions to make environments conducive to PA.
3. Identifying the extent to which children’s PA rates are related to their mental wellbeing will add context and value when designing neighbourhoods around schools that would be supportive of increased PA, and reduced risk of low mental wellbeing. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis research/project is funded by the British Academy’s Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges Programme, supported under the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund”.