Cairn Guidance Work Updates

We have just been notified that we will be presenting two sessions in Bend Oregon at the School Employee Wellness Conference in March for OEA Choice TrustJess will share her information on creating sustainable staff wellness programs as well as moderate a panel of school health champions sharing they staff wellness success stories. 

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Let's Move Active School PAL Training of Trainers!

Loved spending the past 4 days at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton OR with a fabulous group of professionals! The Let's Move Active Schools initiative brought together trainers from all over the US for two objectives:
1. Re-connect seasoned trainers and provide updates on the Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader (PAL) training
2. On-board a new group of national trainers for the PAL training

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Kentucky Association for Health, PE Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD)

For years, I've attended the Oregon chapter of this same organization. It's the professional organization for educators and faculty in school health education, physical education, recreation and dance. It was my first year attending the KAHPERD conference and I was impressed. Sunday kicked off with a free pre-training (about 60 in attendance!) on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program. It is a free program developed to ensure what happens before, during and after the fitness assessment is beneficial for students and teachers and leads to youth who are active for life. 

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KY Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader Training

Yesterday was Kentucky's first ever Let's Move Active Schools (LMAS) Physical Activity Leader (PAL) Training. Jamie Sparks, Coordinated School Health Director at the Kentucky Department of Education and I were the trainers. We had 57 PE teachers (K-12 represented) from all over the region excited to join in on the skill-building workshop, and, of course the fun!

Jamie Sparks and I were the trainers for the first #KYPAL training in Kentucky!


Let's Move Active Schools PAL training equips educators and other school health advocates to implement Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP). I don't love that we call it Programs, because in reality, CSPAP is really about implementing programs, policies and practices that create a culture of health in your school. The mantra is "60 a Day!" with the goal being students are physically active 60 minutes per day. That might sound like a lot, but it is really not.. Those 60 minutes of physical activity could include: time being physically active in physical education class, before and after school physical activity (laps programs, after school inter-murals, walk and bike to school efforts) and during school physical activity opportunities (within classroom environments, or breaks and recess). Plenty of opportunities to get students moving!

We know that there is research to demonstrate that incorporating physical activity (PA) in the classroom doesn't affect academic performance in any negative way. And, as Jamie Sparks alluded to in the training, we know that our brain on PA is like Miracle Grow on plants. In the classroom, it boosts attention & concentration. 

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     Physical  activity improves learning on three levels: “first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.”     John Ratey , SPARK


Physical  activity improves learning on three levels: “first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.”

John Ratey , SPARK


The training was full of movement, music, laughter and activities that engaged our participants. The participants participated in a carousel activity in which they were able to work in groups of 10 to brainstorm what they were currently doing around the areas of physical education, before and after school PA programs, PA during school, family and community engagement, and staff involvement at the elementary and/or secondary level. They also had a chance to discuss what could be done at their schools to strengthen these 5 areas of CSPAP.  We provided opportunities for them to learn the 7 Step Process for implementing CSPAP in their school (create a School Wellness Council, complete a needs assessment, create vision, goals and objectives, action plan, define outcomes, develop a plan of action, implement and measure success).

The teachers were engaged and enthusiastic for a summer professional development day! It was great to meet new teachers passionate about this work in my home state. Loved having the opportunity- thank you to all the partners that made it happen!

Carousel Activity

Carousel Activity

Connecticut School Health Guidelines Training

School district teams working on their 5 year vision.

School district teams working on their 5 year vision.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to work with 4 school districts in Connecticut that will be working with the CT Department of Public Health and CT Department of Education on physical activity and nutrition programs under the CDC's State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health also known as the 1305 or Quad grant.

It was a great opportunity for these districts to learn more about tools and resources that will help them assess where their school is at around programs, policies and practices related to physical activity, physical education and healthy eating. I lead them through many activities including:

  • A 'think out of the box"/ creative visioning activity- what media/people will be saying about them in 5 years from now as a result of this work;
  • practicing your stairwell speech for making the case to create healthier learning environments for both students and staff;
  • filling in a crosswalk tool that allows participants to align federal and state mandates/education accountability measures and initiatives to health goals; and
  • participating in a jigsaw activity to become familiar with the nine guidelines within the School Health Guidelines tool.
Norwich CT team's Visioning Activity!

Norwich CT team's Visioning Activity!

Evaluations were super strong and I had a great time seeing my parents and being back in my home state, during the BEST week ever... GO UCONN! Meeting these school teams was fantastic and I hope I have the opportunity to work with them again over the next 4-5 years!


I couldn't resist. CDC does NOT endorse UCONN Huskies. :)

I couldn't resist. CDC does NOT endorse UCONN Huskies. :)

Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader Training

Welcoming the participants for the day.

Welcoming the participants for the day.

Yesterday, LMAS held it's first-ever LMAS PAL training at a national conference. Judy LoBianco and I facilitated the full-day event and had the opportunity to work with 40 fabulous new PALs from around the country and even the world! 

The goal of the training is to bring participants through a process in which they gain knowledge and skills to go home and implement a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program. It's actually not a program, but a philosophy or way of incorporating a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity throughout a school day. The core of this work is quality physical education programs, taught by a certified physical education teacher who receives on-going professional development (ideal!). But, reality is that most students do not get 60 minutes of physical education a day. So, how do we incorporate physical activity throughout the day? Before and after-school programs, like walk and bike to school, open gym opportunities. We can promote physical activity during recess including incentives for walking or running laps for students. We can incorporate physical activity within the classroom- any classroom, any subject. For example, yesterday I encouraged participants to get up and make shapes and obtuse and acute angles with their bodies. Why not incorporate math and movement? With all those opportunities to include physical activity throughout the day, it should be no problem for every school in America to provide 60 minutes of physical activity (PA) throughout the day for their students. 

Judy LoBianco role modeling "Making the Case" pitch to "principal" Jamie Sparks.

Judy LoBianco role modeling "Making the Case" pitch to "principal" Jamie Sparks.

So, why do it? Well, obviously the obesity epidemic is on everyone's mind. But, there are a lot more benefits to implementing PA programs. Walking and biking to school means less vehicles on school grounds, which may mean less accidents and can result in better air quality that decreases asthma triggers and increases attendance (asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism related to chronic disease in many state). Walking and biking is also better for the environment and creates safer communities when youth are out and about. That is one example and realizing not every school is walk and bike accessible, there are 100s of other ways to incorporate PA throughout the day. The research on what PA does for the brain is there. It jumpstarts it again! It may lead to higher test scores and academic achievement. PA leads to increased motivation, alertness and attention. 

Jump on board! Learn about how you can get in involved in increasing PA for your students (and, I'd include staff in that as well!) by going here!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

For those of you in the right place at the right time, you may be able to attend one of these speaking engagements I'm speaking at or facilitating! Listed in order of occurrence.

1. Leadership Louisville's Best of Leadership Summit, March 17-18
I'm presenting a Ted-style talk during the 3-4:30 breakout session entitled, "Storytellers: A Next Generation Perspective". "Do Something Extraordinary" will focus on the six life lessons I learned on my 4,197 mile solo bicycle journey across the US this past summer and how those lessons related to being a leader in your professional field. Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer will be speaking on his “Vision for Louisville” and CEO of Chrysalis Ventures, David Jones Jr will be speaking about “Innovating to Improve Education and Healthcare”. The three breakout topics for each time throughout the day are: Leadership, Community and Driving Change. Don't miss it. Register for the upcoming event here!

2. SPARK sponsored Webinar, March 19, 3pm PST/6pm EST
I'm facilitating an hour long webinar for SPARK called, Gearing Up for School Health: Riding the Path to a Comprehensive School Health Program. Anyone can register and be a part of this workshop I'm leading in a couple of weeks! To register and find out more (objectives and description) go here

3. National AAHPERD/SHAPE Conference in St Louis, MO, April 1
I will be co-facilitating a Let's Move Active Schools, Physical Activity Leader (PAL) training with Judy LoBianco, former PE Administrator of the Year Awardee. By participating in this training, you will become a PAL and have the knowledge and skills to go back to your school or district and implement school-wide change in the areas of PE, physical activity during the school day, before and after school, staff involvement and family and community engagement. To register for this all day pre-conference session, go here

4. School-site Health Promotion Conference, Sugarloaf Maine, week of June 23
As the keynote speaker during this week's staff wellness conference in Maine, I will be addressing a variety of topics through the lens of my bicycle journey across the US with a focus around employee wellness. More and more schools around the country are addressing the health and well-being of their staff and workplace environments. This not only models good health for students but increases staff attendance and productivity. My 75 minute presentation will be a call to action for the audience, mostly attending in district-level teams of 5-10 people. 

There are some other pending events I will be speaking at or facilitating that will be open to the public… potentially in Alaska, Kentucky, Oregon and Maryland. Stay tuned!



Gearing Up for School Health- Webinar!

I'm facilitating a webinar hosted by SPARK on Wednesday, March 19 at 3pm PST/6pm EST! More information on how to register to come, but see description below. Feel free to share with others.

“Riding the Path to a Comprehensive School Health Program”

You can’t ride a bicycle unless all the parts are working. In addition, the parts need to work cohesively for a smooth ride to your destination.  A successful comprehensive school health program (CSHP) must have multiple components working together for one common goal…. building healthier schools. Join us at the next SPARK webinar to learn about best practices and successful strategies for building your program, as well as develop action steps to support activities to make it happen. Students must be healthy in order to be educated, and they must be educated in order to stay healthy. Implementing a comprehensive school health program does not need to always be an uphill climb. Lead your school down the path by guiding the implementation of programs, policies, and activities to improve the health of children. Our guest speaker, Jessica Lawrence of Cairn Guidance will share her lessons learned and experiences in building a CSHP. Register now to start the journey towards a healthy school environment!

Attendees will:

  • Be presented with the relationship of health issues to education accountability measures (test scores, graduation rates, attendance);
  • Understand the CSHP model and how CSPAP fits into the model, and hear examples;
  • Be presented with information on best practices when building sustainable school health programs;
  • Be encouraged to set one next step goal around what you learned on the webinar.

It's Like Throwing Water on a Fire

Blog post by regularly guest blogger, Jamie Sparks, Director of Coordinated School Health at the Kentucky Department of Education. Twitter handle: @JamieSparksCSH

I want to start with an analogy that I see year after year in government. The analogy starts with a fire, with the obvious goal being to extinguish it or at least reduce it in size.  The apparent logical solution is to use water, however, increasing the volume of water to put the fire out many times has little effect. It may put out the fire, but the damage is done. At times, the conclusion is that there is not enough water to put the fire out, and rather the solution should be on reducing the fuel that is the source of the fire. In this illustration, the fire represents disease, specifically that associated with obesity. Our government systems annually and increasingly try to fund more and more "water" to treat the many obesity related health problems (I.e. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, respiratory illness). The "water" represents funding for treatments and screenings. It is a band-aid approach.

Just as with a wildfire, it is never quite possible to obtain enough water to fix the issue. The strategy is always about controlling the environment to reduce the fuel for the fire. This has to be where we apply our strategies for obesity prevention and thus ultimately reducing health care costs for everyone! To change the landscape for obesity prevention, there has to be an investment and prioritization in changing environments schools, communities and worksites.  This means that the primary agent of change for our society has to start with school requirements for physical education. Investment for instructional priority in quality physical education programs will contribute to increasing physical literacy and ultimately increased physical activity. The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine says it this way, "strengthen schools as the heart of health", both our PHYSICAL health and our FISCAL health as a nation depends on this!

Tune in TONIGHT! Feb 12, 9pm EST for Jamie's Southern District AAHPERD PE Twitter Chat! Follow #SDpechat 

Let's Move Active Schools in Kentucky

Today, the Lane Report shared news that our Education Commissioner, Terry Holliday  is "committed to improving the health and wellness of Kentucky's students. ‘Let’s Move!’ helps schools create active environments that get students moving every day and supports their success in school.”

What a breathe of fresh air! A leader that recognizes the link between health and learning! Nearly 50 Kentucky school districts have signed up for the initiative that supports schools using a needs assessment tool, like the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Schools Program Inventory, developing an action plan and working on overall physical education, physical activity during/before/after school and professional development/support to school staff to get more kids moving during their time on school grounds.

Yes, I love that my new home state is implementing national initiatives that bring together an array of strong partners. But, I'm most impressed that our educational leader sees that our students won't achieve to their full potential unless they are healthy.

More from the article:

The Kentucky Board of Education Health Subcommittee will officially recognize all Kentucky school districts that have made a commitment to the “Let’s Move!” Active Schools initiative at the Southern District American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) convention Feb. 20 in Lexington. Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition (PCFSN), will be a featured speaker and will help present recognition certificates to participating district superintendents.

AAHPERD and PCFSN serve as the managing partners of the “Let’s Move!” Active Schools program and work closely with organizations across sectors to support the program. Participating schools receive priority for physical education and physical activity grants associated with the program, customized technical assistance and professional development. Any U.S. school can enroll and receive assistance and support at no cost. For more information, visit