School physical activity programs pioneered by moms, attracting attention of First Lady, expanding nationwide through innovative grants opportunity
Up until a year ago, Kara Lubin and Kathleen Tullie did not know one another. Yet these two moms share curiously similar stories. Both women held close ties to the schools in their communities, Kara as a special education teacher at Washington Elementary in Corona, CA and Kathleen as mom of two children at Memorial Elementary in Natick, MA. Kara and Kathleen also shared an enthusiasm for movement, exercise, and all its benefits. These values led each to become concerned about the lack of opportunities for exercise and active play students had access to at their schools. Determined to see a change, these two women took action. Each rallied the support of local parents and teachers to pioneer a fresh way to get kids moving: Kara launched the 100 Mile Club in 1992 and Kathleen created BOKS in 2009.
The simple goal of these programs was to inject more activity and exercise into the school day. In both communities students, parents, and teachers quickly recognized the transformative effects these programs were having, not simply on students’ health and fitness, but in other areas as well. In the classroom attention, focus, and academic performance improved. Tardiness and discipline referrals declined. All around students were more enthusiastic about school. It seemed that the simple steps Kara and Kathleen took to turn their schools into active schools were also turning their schools into better schools.
Today 100 Mile Club and BOKS are each in over 200 schools across the nation. While the programs offer distinct approaches, both create school environments that prioritize and celebrate physical activity:
The 100 Mile Club presents elementary school students with a straightforward challenge: run, jog, or walk 100 miles over the course of the school year. It’s a big mark to hit but students of all abilities jump at the chance to score miles during designated running times before or after school, during recess, and at sanctioned community events, such as local road races and family nights.
BOKS is designed for the before school hour so kids begin their day with a dose of fun – 45 minutes of running, playing, and exercise, all before the first school bell rings. Featuring a wide variety of dynamic games and activities, the BOKS curriculum is popular with elementary age kids of all ability levels. Ask a BOKS kid their favorite game and you might hear “Fishy Fish”, “Crab Soccer”, or “Toilet Tag”. Quality movement that is kid-approved.
Collectively these two fun, flexible programs have impacted the lives of thousands of children. Now they are ready for you to bring to your school!
Grants to launch 100 Mile Club, BOKS, and other innovative programs are now being offered to schools around the nation as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s latest campaign “Let’s Move! Active Schools”. A collaboration between government organizations, NGOs, and private sector partners, Let’s Move! Active Schools is designed to boost physical activity in America’s schools. ChildObesity180’s Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), is one of these partners.
ASAP is increasing activity in schools by identifying innovative solutions pioneered by everyday people like Kara and Kathleen, and empowering new schools with the tools and resources to replicate these proven models. In support of Let’s Move! Active Schools ASAP is awarding 1,000 elementary schools each with $1,000 Acceleration Grants to kick start a tried and true physical activity program, including 100 Mile Club and BOKS. Grant recipients will receive seed funding, a game plan to follow, and a support network of champions around the country embarking on the same path. Grant submissions are being accepted now through April 22, 2013.
ASAP and the First Lady are calling on moms, dads, teachers, coaches, and all school wellness champions interested in making a difference to apply. As Kara and Kathleen discovered, physical activity isn’t just about making our kids healthier - active schools are better places to be. If you’re ready to be a champion for this cause, head to www.ActiveSchoolsASAP.org to get started.