Thursday, March 28, 2013

School Spotlight: Elmdale Elementary School

We are privileged to work with a lot of motivated, inspiring schools and teachers. Josh Hicklin tells us about his journey to create change at Elmdale Elementary School in Springdale, AR.

Tell me about your school and your history with PE4life:
We are located in the suburbs of Springdale, AR. There are about 550 students--94% of which are at
the poverty level. This is my 8th year at Elmdale. We began implementing PE4life philosophies about five years ago. We’ve attended PE4life conferences and workshops in the past. We were selected to receive a Care Foundation grant through PE4life in 2012.

What sort of changes have been made to your school?
We now offer a bigger variety of activities in PE. We have new equipment, including 30 recumbent bikes, that we make available for staff and students. Kids are now staying active while learning. We have a mobile pedaling lab--stationary pedals at the students' desks are being used throughout the building. We changed our mission statement to include physical activity throughout the school day. We have also encouraged staff to be active during meetings, which is now possible thanks to the bikes.

What has been the response of the students to the changes you have made? The teachers? Administrators? Students are thrilled with the new equipment. Teachers have been very excited about stability balls in the classroom and are very receptive to including physical activity in the learning process. They have been very pleased with overall behavior of their classes. Our administration is aware of the changes and has been very pleased. 

Have you seen changes in student performance or behavior? 
We are waiting on data. We are going to have some students use stability balls during our upcoming testing. 

What equipment have you purchased? 
We bought 30 recumbent bikes, 70 stability balls, and 30 stationary pedals. 

Have you had parents or other community members become involved? 
Parents have become very involved. Because they now have access to the equipment, they come in and ride the bikes while waiting on kids in the morning and afternoon. 

Have you applied or received additional funding? 
I have applied for about 10 grants and received two of them (including PE4life). We just received a $10,000 grant from Lowe’s for a new floor. I’m still waiting to hear back from about 3 other grants. I spend a lot of time doing research, and have a student intern from the University of AR to help me with grant writing. 

How do you think the opportunity with PE4life has impacted your school overall? 
PE4life has helped us create a great learning environment for our students and has had a very positive effect on our school. We offer more time for physical activity and incorporate it throughout the school day. Our mornings are much more active for students; they’re no longer just sitting around.  

How do you see your program developing in the future? 
We would like to add a fitness center, both indoors and outdoors. Accessibility to equipment is the key for our community. Being able to exercise without paying a membership fee would be awesome. We are also hoping to include more stability balls in the future. 

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Josh! Keep up the great work!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Letter to Phil Lawler, From Tim McCord

A Letter to My Friend,

Phil Lawler, you would be proud.  I spent the weekend at our PSAHPERD Convention.  Phil always looked at conventions as an opportunity to network.  If you ever spent time with Phil at a convention you would know that it always took plenty of time to get from one end of the vendor hall to the other due to his networking with everyone.

During my time at our state convention I was so impressed with the passion shown not only by university students, but also by the veteran teachers that were in attendance.  I chatted with many physical educators who thanked me for the work we had done in Titusville and for our willingness to share with others the means by which we developed our PE program.  This never would have happened without Phil's influence.

Phil taught me the importance of developing a fitness based PE program.  I took the ideas he shared with me to our schools in Titusville.  During the initial integration of Phil's ideas we were met with much push back from many areas.  As I began to attempt to spread Phil's "gospel" I heard things like..."Naperville doesn't teach sport skills.  Naperville doesn't assess sport skills.  Naperville's program is nothing but bells and whistles."  It wasn't long before I began to hear the same things about the Titusville PE program.  I heard the naysayers locally, statewide and at the national level. 

Things have changed.  Physical educators everywhere are following your lead, Phil.  They are incorporating fitness, using small sided games and becoming advocates for their programs.  Exergaming is now an accepted part of physical education.  The brain science you espoused (thanks to Dr. Ratey) is being shared with administrators throughout our country.  Physical education is being taken outside the walls of the gymnasium and integrated into academic subject areas and the concepts of those subject areas are being brought into the gymnasium.  Brain breaks are becoming a common occurrence.   

There are programs throughout the country who are following your lead and now taking the lead in physical education.  You should see the work that your friend Paul Z. is doing in his retirement.  You should see the program George V. has developed in California.  You should see the work Dr. Ratey is doing to promote the brain science of PE throughout the world.  You should see the Action Based Learning Lab Jean B. has developed.  You should see the people who are still coming to Titusville for PE4life Academy Center training.   

We still have much work to do, Phil.  There are plenty of Mr. Woodcock's still rolling out the ball in our PE classes.  Childhood obesity is still on the rise.  Our federal and state governments are extolling the virtues of increased testing in our schools which is leading many administrators to drop physical education and the arts from school curriculums. 

You were a visionary Phil.  Your dream of quality physical education is coming true, one school, one program at a time.  Things are getting better.  You would be proud.

Tim McCord

P.S. Tim has just been awarded the 2012 Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (PSAHPERD). Read all about it and then join us in congratulating him!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Celebrate with the World's Largest PE Class!

Project Aces is a great way to celebrate May's National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Physical Education Week (May 1-7)!

Project ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) is a signature program of the Youth Fitness Coalition, Inc. Project ACES was created by physical education teacher Len Saunders in 1989 as a method of motivating children to exercise, as well as show the importance of physical education.

ACES takes place on the first Wednesday in May as part of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month along with National Physical Education Week. It has been labeled as "the world's largest exercise class" by the media. Since 1989, millions of children from all over the world exercise together to promote proper health and fitness habits. With the obesity epidemic facing the youth of the world, children's fitness plays a major role in fighting heart disease. Project ACES hopes to address these issues with its big event in May, as well as schools that participate in daily Project ACES Clubs throughout the year.

PE4life is a big supporter of Project ACES.....please visit their web site to sign up your school!