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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Supporting Sustainability

This past Saturday, I helped coordinate, facilitate and keynote an event with Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS), the 19th largest school district in the country. We were fortunate to have three essential organizations represented.

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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

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!

Who's on My Team?

I am asked often, how, eleven years ago, at 27 years old, I came to oversee K-12 Health Education at the Oregon Department of Education. And now at age 38, I am a national school health consultant with current/pending Department of Education clients in Alaska, Missouri, Connecticut, Maine and organizations such as Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Legacy Foundation, Kentucky Youth Health Network and Let's Move Active Schools.

I attribute my success to many things. Internally, it comes from determination and passion for the work. I am obviously skilled at what I do around adult learning- facilitation/speaking/training, curriculum and program development, networking, building partnerships and collaborating.

My business skills? They are decent. That brings me to, Who's on my team?, something I will be talking about tomorrow at the Leadership Louisville's Best of Summit. Who inspires you? Supports you in your profession? 9 years ago I found myself starting a school health consulting business with little to no business background. I hired a fabulous business coach, MJ Petroni from Causeit, Inc. who is still my advisor and mentor today. Others on my team include my accountant, financial advisor Koko Hunt and professional mentors like Gary English, Ginny Ehrlich, Susan Telljohann and John Henry-Ledwith. People I can confide in to ask their opinion about ethics, content, processes. Creating a strong team will help you be successful in your work. 

Continuing education is another driver/support. Since I was an undergraduate student at Ithaca College I attended statewide professional conferences. I still attend at least two national conferences a year. I not only go to network and gain more skills and knowledge within the field of school health, but I submit proposals and share experiences, my expertise, projects and programs. People view me as a strong, passionate leader and from that, I build relationships and partnerships and collaboration opportunities. Sometimes it leads to new work. 

I read my professional journals and reach out to those that are strangers but have a similar passion to mine. I have coffee dates like they are going out of style. I do pro-bono projects often. I give back. I blog and process what I'm doing. I share documents and things I've developed with others to adapt and use. 

Who can push you forward, even out of your comfort zone so growth occurs. Consider who's team you are on. Who do you inspire? Who are you are mentor to? Are you proud of your work? Are you a role model in your personal and professional life? What can you work on to walk the talk?  

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 letsmove.gov.