As a Kinesiology undergrad, a sports enthusiast, and a current Activities and Athletics Director and Health and Physical Education teacher at my school, I have a passion for developing habits in young people at an early age to exercise on a regular basis. We can review statistics all day about how kids are progressively getting fatter across the world, and it is too easy to say “back in my day, we didn’t sit around and play video games,” but the reality is that technology is an ever-present integration into today’s children’s lives. Educators need to be more intentional at getting students moving in the classroom and using technology wherever possible to connect kids to exercise.
There are a variety of organizations that are doing a great job of this. In particular, NFL Play 60 has partnered with the American Heart Association to create an in-school curriculum (check it out here) that helps teachers integrate exercise into daily lessons. The curriculum is based on interactive digital lessons in which technology is at the forefront of the exercise/classroom integration. To go even further, the organization has created a mobile application for students to use to keep up with their activity progress. The app also focuses on a running/jogging game that integrates exercise with the attractive qualities of normal mobile games. Additionally, the app provides some basic facts and tips that are applicable to learning more about one’s health.
Another organization that supports the initiative of developing kids’ healthy exercise habits is NBA Fit. The three main goals of this organization are to “Be Active, Eat Healthy, and Play Together.” One of the neat inclusions to this program is the inside access that is provided to users of individual NBA players. Not only does the organization use NBA players to make public appearances to promote the wellbeing of young people, but it also gives online access to many different NBA stars’ workout regimens. As seen in the snapshot from the website below, kids (or adults) can select from seven different development areas in order to cultivate a more healthy lifestyle based on basketball-specific information related to each topic. NBA Fit also has a mobile application that supports this initiative.
As a side note, I also found it ironic that we delved into infographics last week im my TEACH-NOW Cohort and NBA Fit specifically provided a Behind the Numbers Infographic that can be seen by clicking on the link.
Moving to a somewhat different organization with very much the same goals, Michelle Obama has made strides in the US to develop the “Let’s Move” campaign. Launched in 2010, the First Lady has clearly laid out the facts that kids today are not living near as healthy of a lifestyle as kids thirty years ago did. On the government sponsored website, she mentions that “today, children experience a very different lifestyle. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and after-school sports have been cut; afternoons are now spent with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is now commonplace” (Obama, 2010). On the Let’s Move website, under the “Take Action” tab, teachers can navigate to a Teacher Toolkit that provides wonderful advice (and even more links to outside resources) for helping develop more active lifestyles for young people in your classrooms today.
Lastly, Mike Kuczala is a “bestselling author, acclaimed keynote speaker and innovative professional developer in both education and corporate settings” (Kuczala, 2016). I personally had the chance to meet and learn from him at a recent professional development conference I attended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While his ideas are somewhat more focused on encouraging the importance of brain/body connection as movement relates to brain stimulation, the premise of his ideas is still to get youngsters moving. Interestingly, educators can research his personally produced resources, read his books, or use the innumerable amount of free resources linked from his twitter to integrate movement into their classrooms. Much of this includes proven research that says that kids will learn better and retain more by teaching with his unconventional suggestions. Further research can be found by reading one of his two books: The Kinesthetic Classroom or Training in Motion. By taking just thirty seconds to do a “brain booster,” teachers can use Mike’s techniques to transform the way their students learn in any subject in schools today. I’d suggest watching his TEDx Talk (video below) where you can learn some interesting insight on techniques that can be easily applied in your classroom tomorrow. Mike mentioned to me when I met him that he has a website, but it is not where the resources are found. He welcomed me to follow him on twitter @kinestheticlass where he posts resources from other leading minds in the industry.
To close, I’ll be the first to admit that the above information was very easy for me to collect and report on. Why? Simply because this is something that I am passionate about. Reading Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website will open anyone’s eyes to the realities of today’s American societal problems concerning our young people. As an educator, you are not just responsible for teaching your students to do a math problem, spell a word correctly, or recite the Bill of Rights. It is your responsibility to develop a well-rounded person, no matter the age of your students. Think about the importance of health education and how you can help in your very own classroom tomorrow.