Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movement Fuels Brain Power!

The Minnesota Department of Health and SHIP offered a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) training at Jackson County Central Schools on November 15.  The training was open to all districts within Cottonwood, Jackson, Watonwan, Faribault and Martin Counties.  The day-long event was facilitated by a certified training for the National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NAPSE), Georgi Roberts.  Roberts is the Director of Health and Physical Education for the Fort Worth Independent School District. With more than 40 people in attendance, the goal of the training was to develop a comprehensive plan for physical activity with staff, and through before and after school programs, physical activity in the classroom and recess, as well as physical activity extending beyond the school day to bring families and community together in a healthy way.  

Because all kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, schools need to be creative to create a culture where physical activity is welcome and part of the school day.  Time for physical activity does not decrease academic achievement; rather it removes barriers to learning.  Research shows physical activity during school can reinforce and link classroom content, and facilitates retention, concentration and on-task behavior. Roberts offered practical ways for schools to change the way they do things and focus on healthier activities.  Some examples included adding Jammin’ Minute physical activities twice or more each day to get kids up and moving;  drop in activity time for middle school and high school kids where activities are available such as Boo-Boo Volleyball and Cardio Four Square; evaluating fundraising efforts to eliminate selling cookie dough and instead trying to plan a walk-a-thon (one school with 700 children raised more than $34,000 from one walk-a-thon!); try recess before lunch and schedule classes that kids struggle with right after lunch; develop an award program such as the “bronzed sneaker trophy” that can be moved monthly to the class demonstrating the most physical activity in their day; incorporate movement into meetings either through frequent activity breaks or through walking meetings; develop walking school buses; plan Fitness Friday and encourage parents and kids to walk together, or host a field day for families.

The training offered practical ideas that can be implement immediately, and other ideas that will take some time to plan with staff to ensure everyone is on board from food service, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians and administration.  The lesson learned is that physical activity increases brain activity, so Let’s Move!

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