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Monday 24 February 2020 10:48pm

BEATS leader Associate Professor Sandra Mandic (right) with visiting William Evans Fellow Professor John Spence from the University of Alberta.

The Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) Research Programme had two great reasons to get together for its annual symposium last week.

The first was to share their latest findings and exchange ideas across the programme's interdisciplinary and multi-sector research collaborations.

The other was to receive the Otago 2019 Research Group Award that recognises both the outstanding research productivity and high levels of community and stakeholder engagement the programme has become known for.

BEATS leader Associate Professor Sandra Mandic says receiving the award is wonderful recognition of the programme's dedicated cross-sector work which started in 2013 with the objective of advancing scientific knowledge about adolescents' travel to school.

The BEATS team with its 2019 Otago Research Group Award last week.

Since then the team has been working with all Dunedin secondary schools and 11 out of 15 rural Otago secondary schools to provide an evidence-based service promoting active transportation to schools, Dunedin City Council and wider community, and to inform regional and national policy and planning.

Findings from BEATS research have been used by multiple government agencies including the Ministries of Health and Transport and New Zealand Transport Agency, and mapping data has also been used to improve Dunedin's road safety and infrastructure around local secondary schools.

“We have also established multiple avenues for communicating BEATS findings to not only the academic community but also to policy makers, health promoters and community groups,” Associate Professor Mandic says.

The most recent project, BEATS Natural Experiment, is supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand Project Grant and internal grants from the Division of Science and School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Since 2013 when BEATS was formed, Associate Professor Mandic says she has learned a few lessons, such as designing and running projects as win-win, aiming high and planning for success, and extending the vision and the team.

“We always deliver on our promises by giving back and delivering value, we keep embracing and creating new opportunities, and most importantly we have lots of fun along the way.”

Professor John Spence from the University of Alberta has been an Associate Investigator with the BEATS Research Programme since 2013 and is currently visiting Otago on a William Evans Fellowship.

Professor Spence says BEATS is rapidly gaining international recognition for its reputation of community and stakeholder engagement and retention.

Professor Spence's research focuses on the benefits and determinants of physical activity, and staff and students are welcome to attend the three departmental seminars outlined below.

Come along:

Potential Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Movement Behaviour: Please Take a Seat
Thu 27 Feb, 12.10pm to 1pm
Department of Preventative & Social Medicine, Adams Building, 18 Frederick St, Room 033/036

Motives for physical activity: A further delineation of FUN
Wed 4 Mar, 1pm to 2pm
School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, 55 Union St West, Seminar Room 213/214

Identifying motives for physical activity: It's all about FUN
Tue 10 Mar, 12noon to 1pm
School of Physiotherapy; Physio School Building, Room 1.02

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