Barriers, enablers and motivators of the ‘I'm an active hero’ physical activity intervention for preschool children: a qualitative study

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Background: Insufficient physical activity (PA) in early childhood is linked to adverse health outcomes and a heightened risk of obesity. Successful PA programmes often require input from key stakeholders, such as parents and educators. However, research on stakeholders’ perspectives regarding PA programmes for preschool children is limited, impeding effective programme design and implementation.

Objectives: This study aims to explore the perspectives of key stakeholders to gain insights into the challenges, facilitators, and motivators that influence the planning, execution, and sustainability of the 'I'm an Active Hero (IAAH) intervention component,' a preschool-based initiative designed to promote PA among young children.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Saudi Arabia with individual preschool principals (n = 2), and focus group discussions were held, respectively, with preschool staff members (n = 4, all female) and parents (4 mothers, 5 fathers).

Results: A thematic analysis identified four main themes: 1) Barriers to parental involvement in preschool PA interventions, such as time constraints, lack of flexibility, limited space, and a shortage of trained staff; 2) Risks and benefits of children's programme participation; 3) Motivators including rewards, non-financial incentives, and concerns about childhood obesity and a sedentary lifestyle; 4) Facilitating factors for overcoming barriers, including staff training, time reallocation, staff coordination, space optimization , non-financial incentives, and sustaining partnerships.

Conclusion: This study's findings are crucial for childcare professionals, preschools, education authorities, and policymakers, offering valuable insights for future research. However, further collaboration with key stakeholders is essential to enhance individual attitudes and preschool policies for effective intervention implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1333173
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MA is supported by a PhD scholarship from Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia. No other sources of support were used to assist in the preparation of this article. Acknowledgments

Publisher Copyright:
2024 Al-walah, Donnelly and Heron.


  • bold physical activity programme development and implementation
  • health promotion
  • obesity prevention
  • preschool children
  • qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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