Implementing Appetite to Play at scale in British Columbia: Evaluation of a Capacity-Building Intervention to Promote Physical Activity in the Early Years

Childcare is a critical target for promoting children’s physical activity (PA) and physical literacy (PL). With emerging evidence about the efficacy of policy and capacity-building strategies, more information about how to bring these strategies to scale is needed. This paper describes implementation at scale of Appetite to Play (ATP), a capacity-building intervention for childcare providers, and examines the implementation and impact on early years providers’ capacity to address PA. The ATP implementation evaluation was a natural experiment that utilized a mixed methods concurrent parallel design framed within the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance framework (RE-AIM). Workshop and website tracking assessed reach and adoption. Surveys and interviews with workshop participants and stakeholders assessed satisfaction, implementation, and maintenance. Training reached 60% of British Columbia municipalities and 2700 early years providers. Significant changes in participants’ knowledge and confidence to promote PA and PL were achieved (p > 0.01−0.001). Childcare level implementation facilitators as reported by early years providers included appropriate resources, planning, indoor space, and equipment, whereas weather and space were reported barriers. The stakeholder advisory group viewed the stakeholder network and Active Play policy as facilitators and adjustments to recent shifts in childcare funding and previous initiatives as barriers to implementation. ATP was scalable and impacted provider knowledge, confidence, and intentions. The impact on actual policies and practices, and children’s PA needs to be assessed along with sustainability.