Guest Blogger: Brittany Badicke
Today’s kids are more inactive than any previous generation. An inactive childhood is likely to lead to an inactive adulthood, a major contributor to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The majority of our kids’ waking hours are spent at school, presenting a tremendous opportunity for schools to offer physical activity throughout the day. Unfortunately, many schools do not provide the recommended daily amount of physical activity.
The American Heart Association recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. This helps to control weight, reduce blood pressure, raise “good” cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and some cancers, and improve psychological well-being. Physically fit children have higher scholastic achievement and less absenteeism than their less-fit counterparts, and being physically active can help youth improve their concentration, memory, and classroom behavior. The foundation for a lifetime of physical activity begins early in life with quality physical education, as it gives students the skills and knowledge necessary.
Oregon is significant in that only Oregon and Washington D.C. have requirements for physical education. In 2007, former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 3141, requiring that K-5 students receive 150 minutes of physical education each week, and grades 6-8 students receive 225 minutes each week. At least 50% of PE class time is to be spent in moderate physical activity. This equates to 30 minutes per day for elementary students and 45 minutes per day for middle school students. While this law was passed in 2007, it was with the compromise of not taking effect until 2017.
With the physical education requirement quickly approaching, the Beaverton School Board charged the District to create an Active Students Task Force in September 2014. The purpose of the Task Force was to develop recommendations to ensure timely compliance with the physical education requirement and develop a model for student’s movements and activities throughout the school day. One sector of the Task Force was the Active Students Pilot.
The Active Students Pilot joined forces with our ANCHOR initiative – Oregon Kids Move with Heart – in 2015 with the goal of increasing physical activity opportunities for elementary and middle school students through staff development, highlighting successes, and encouraging the rest of Oregon. Three elementary schools and one middle school participated in the pilot; each elementary school began the day with physical activity (students take quick 30 second breaks for a variety of exercises or dances nicknamed Brain Boosts), added recess before lunch, and incorporated Brain Boosts throughout the school day. The middle school had daily PE class, added a 12 minute physical activity break before lunch, and incorporated Brain Boosts during health class.
The pilot program was quite the success! The goal was to have 11 schools participating in the 2016-17 school year pilot program, and instead, the District made the decision to end the pilot phase and have each of the 33 elementary schools participate in the activities piloted, beginning the 2016-17 school year. Additionally, the Active Students Pilot Program was recognized at the Beaverton School District WE Celebration & Awards, receiving the WE Innovate award for piloting innovative strategies to increase physical activity in the district.