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!

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