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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American School Health Association Conference

I took full advantage of being back in Portland for the third time in 3 months, this time at the American School Health Association Conference. Being that I just moved from there to Kentucky less than a year ago, there were plenty of people to connect with, but I focused on my own professional development and networking while in downtown Portland.

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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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What Have We Been Up To?

Here is an update about what Cairn Guidance has been up to recently. We are so excited to be working in school health, community health and within the content areas of: tele-medicine, after-school programming for youth, school health policies, facilitation, keynoting, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly streets, sustainability, curriculum, systems thinking, suicide prevention, mental health promotion, and obesity prevention! 

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky- Jess is a part time project officer for the Foundation, overseeing sub-grantee projects around Kentucky. These projects are funded through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and focus on a variety of community health issues. Through the Foundation, Jess was invited to the White House this upcoming Friday for a SIF reception displaying some of the innovative projects being implemented around the country. She is honored to have been invited to participate in this great event!

Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS)- We have just completed a review of PGCPS District Wellness Policy and all other related school health policies, including Bullying/Harassment, Crisis, Recess, Competitive Foods and HIV policies. We are also helping to facilitate a Health and Wellness Team Conference on September 27 for over 100 participants across their school system, representing school nurses, health education teachers, physical education teachers, cafeteria managers and school administrators. I will be keynoting the day to energize participants and helping facilitate school health related information, best practices and sustainability of their school health work. Both the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and ASCD will be present to help support the district’s commitment to being “Great By Choice” and choosing to invest more in health promotion, disease prevention, quality health care while in school for their students, health screenings for their staff and increased family engagement in school health and wellness committees in order to improve academic achievement for ALL students attending their public schools.

American School Health Association (ASHA)- ASHA is in Portland Oct 9-11! Jess will be facilitating the first-timer’s session at ASHA this year, on Friday morning. She is also presenting a workshop on “Creating Lasting School Health Programs,” focused on how to create sustainable school health initiatives. 

Alaska Department of Education- Jess will be traveling up to Anchorage in October to facilitate the Systems Thinking; Systems Changing Simulation for districts in Alaska working on chronic disease and school health, some CDC 1305/Quad Grant-selected districts.  Jess is excited that this trip falls right after ASHA’s conference in Portland and will allow a couple of days in Seward AK to ‘play’!

Alta Planning/Grand Rapids MI Transportation Project- Cairn Guidance is working with Alta Planning to create a safer, healthier city. We are working on a project funded by the transportation to create a more bicycle/pedestrian friendly city. Cairn’s role will be to create adult-learning modules to promote safe bicycling and walking around the city, during all times throughout the year. We are mentioned in this article on the project.

EVEN- EVEN is an initiative Cairn is helping launch around mental health. The project includes a High School suicide prevention project and will be expanding to address mental health within communities, specifically military and their families, K-12 schools and in work settings addressing employee wellness. More to come on this project!

HYPE Project- Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina partnered with the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to create the Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project. It was created through funding from the Federal Community Transformation Grant Program as a part of the Healthy South Carolina Initiative.

The purpose of the HYPE Project is to motivate and engage youth in policy, systems, and environmental obesity change efforts throughout South Carolina. The HYPE Project will build the skills of youth so that they can become a greater voice in their communities. The HYPE Project activities focus on healthy eating and active living; however, youth are encouraged to use the skills they learn to be lifelong champions of positive change.

Cairn Guidance is reviewing HYPE’s student and facilitator guides in order to strengthen the program. Using their pilot and evaluation feedback and reviewing the program through the lens of the Health Education Analysis Tool, we will provide additions and revisions as needed.

Southern Obesity Summit- Jess will be keynoting this conference on Tuesday, October 7 in Louisville. Her “Do Something Extraordinary” keynote will motivate and energize participants to continue to fight obesity in their communities and set personal wellness goals to take care of their own health. 


Kentucky Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Afternoon panel at the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Afternoon panel at the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Yesterday, I was invited to an event that began with a wonderful reception at the Maxwell Place, residence of Drs Eli and Mary Lynne Capilouto (President and his wife) on the University of Kentucky's campus. The University of Kentucky (UK) hosted the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity in partnership with Kentucky Youth Advocates and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and with support of a health policy grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Summit kicked off after the reception with opening remarks from Dr. Steven Wyatt from the School of Public Health at UK and Terry Brooks, Executive Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates. They both did a good job of framing the day… why we were there and what they hope we would accomplish by the end of the day. We were a selected group of organizations and individuals (about 50 people total) in attendance and they hoped we would come to consensus on 3 action items for next steps to address childhood obesity in the Commonwealth. 

We don’t know how to eat, how to create calorie-rich environments.
— David Jones, Jr, Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education Member, Humana Board of Directors and Chairman of Chrysalis Ventures.

Bill Goodman from Kentucky Education Television interviewed David Jones, representing the Board of Education for Jefferson County Public Schools. David was the Chair of the Humana Board (in which he is still a member) and runs a venture capitalist, Chrysalis Ventures that funds innovative health and technology projects. David suggested that in Kentucky we are fortunate to have a lot of green space, where farmers markets and community gardens may continue to flourish. However, in the urban settings, which he called vertical cities, green space is few and far between. The key to change is using science, knowledge and marketing skills to change the food industry. With Yum! Brands located in Kentucky, we have an opportunity to work with them, not against them, to change the landscape in our communities. They have the skills, brain power and background in the engineering of food in which we can tap into to create healthier communities. David would like to see more education, as he views education to be a direct correlation to health. He also believes we need to change the price of calories, making the nutrient-rich choice the more affordable one. 

Who are you trying to punish? The teacher or the kid?
— Tom Shelton, Superintendent Fayette County School

After the morning interview with David, there were 4, 10 minute TED-style talks given by Dr. Leon Mooneyhan, CEO from Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, Dr. Heather Erwin, Director of Graduate Studies at UK, Dr. Tom Shelton Superintendent, Fayette County Schools and Jamie Sparks, Director of Coordinated School Health, Kentucky Department of Education. Highlights include Heather discussing the research behind how implementing Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP) does NOT decrease academic achievement. She went on to discuss the links between health and academic achievement. Tom Shelton talked about how schools sometimes implement silent lunch and take away recess or use physical activity as a punishment. Tom asked, "Who are you trying to punish? The teacher or the kid?" Jamie talked about how in school health we keep trying to find more water to put out the fire versus actually addressing the issues. "We need to get to a point where PE and Health Education is a normal part of the school day. Obesity is a river with lots of contributaries. There are many moving parts." Jamie went on to say that racial, disability and gender inequities were not created within school environments. They were bigger social issues in which schools addressed and became agents of change. Obesity is no different. Schools, as entire communities should address the issue. 

Jess Lawrence, Mary Lynne Capilouto and Jamie Sparks

Jess Lawrence, Mary Lynne Capilouto and Jamie Sparks

In the afternoon, there was an expert panel facilitated by Bill Goodman and included Julie Brackett, VP of Advocacy at the American Heart Association, Dr. Heather Erwin, Director of Graduate Studies at UK, Dr. Stu Silverman, ED at Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and Dr. Susan Zepeda, CEO Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. I currently do contract work with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and was thrilled to hear Susan discuss how philanthropy/Foundations can help support and address the issue of childhood obesity within schools. She reminded us how the norm should be creating healthy environments and how we all need to model healthy behaviors. We did it with tobacco.

Put a certified PE teacher in every school.
— Wilson Sears, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents

We were then assigned into break out groups to discuss what the ONE next step we would like to see to address childhood obesity within school environments in the Commonwealth. It was wonderful to hear Wilson Sears from the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents say, "Put a certified PE teacher in every school." My break out discussed building awareness, who the right influencers are to build awareness, fitness measures for schools and increase community engagement. Each of the 3 break out groups came to consensus on their top three ideas and from there, all 9 ideas were distilled to three. The three big ideas will be around support and professional development to educators (builds awareness), community and school partnerships and policy. Next steps include workgroups to being strategic planning to implement some of the ideas we discussed in the initial meeting. 

Organizations represented were:
Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky School Board Association
Kentucky Cancer Consortium
YMCA of Greater Louisville
American Heart Association
Kentucky Department of Education
University of Kentucky
Tweens Coalition
Center for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
Former Meade County Superintendent 
KY Assocation for Health, PE, Recreation and Dance
Lexington YMCA
Kentucky Legislature
Kentucky Education Television
Friedell Committee
Kentucky Association of School Councils
Hardin County Schools
JCPS Board of Education
UK, College of Education, School of Public Health, Department of Pediatrics, College of Agriculture
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Kentucky Board of Education
KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services
KY Association of School Superintendents
Fayette County Schools
Prichard Committee
Kentucky PTA
Lincoln County Schools

Susan Zepeda encouraged us all to model healthy activities. Proud to say the day ended with a gorgeous bicycle ride in Mammoth Cave National Park with Jamie Sparks and Stephanie Bunge from the Kentucky Department of Education while traveling from this event in Lexington to Bowling Green for another school health event the following day!

Jess Lawrence, Stephanie Bunge and Jamie Sparks enjoying a bike ride after the event!

Jess Lawrence, Stephanie Bunge and Jamie Sparks enjoying a bike ride after the event!

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!

"It's Just One Cupcake… What's the Big Deal?"

Surprisingly, the most difficult, heated, complicated, divisive discussions in school health right now do not have to do with sex education, but celebrations and competitive foods (vending/fundraisers). I recently saw a friend post on Facebook that she brought cupcakes to her son's pre-school birthday party. I texted her that she was killing me! Her response? It's the last year he gets them. Well, I didn't respond, but I don't think she got it. I'm not against cupcakes or sugar. But, here's the point...

Jill Turley, the Competitive Food Content Advisor for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently presented at the Smart Snacks Summit in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She asked, "Have you heard, It's just one cupcake… what's the big deal?" I chuckled thinking it was only days prior I heard the same argument. Jill showed a recent photo of a elementary school student's plate after a Valentine's Day celebration. Almost 600 calories. Never mind how many students visited the nurses office as a result of a headache after. Or, the behavior in the classroom post-celebration. Jill mentioned that in a class of 20 students, if every kid had cupcakes for their birthday, that amounts to over 10,000 extra calories a year for these students. For an adult, that's an extra 10lbs a year.

And again, what about the time off-task as a result of the sugar… isn't school about creating consistently healthy messages? Our youth are getting plenty of sugar outside of schools. Let's keep schools a place where what they learn in nutrition education is consistent with healthy messages, policies and practices. Rewarding students with food leads to encouraging them to eat when they are not necessarily hungry, and these become learned behaviors in adulthood that we know are contributing to overeating and adult obesity issues. 

So, what are some ideas for birthday celebrations? Most of these come from Jill's presentation (thanks Jill!):

  • Dance party with a special playlist
  • Extra playtime
  • Show and tell
  • Scavenger hunt

If you still want to have food:

  • Spa water (kids pick their own veggies and fruits to add (cucumbers, mint, strawberries, oranges, bananas, etc)
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Trail Mix bar (they get a bag and create their own with different options. If you can't use nuts, use seeds!
  • Roll ups- have cookie cutters to make shapes

If you weren't able to attend the The Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Smart Snack Summits last week which provided professional development, resources and information on the new federal regulations on smart snacks in school that go into affect July 1, you can go here to find out more. 

I was invited by Jacy Wooley, western Kentucky Program Manager for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The training participants included district food service directors, health and PE teachers, school board members, Department of Education representative, administrators and other school health advocates. Thanks for the invite Jacy... fabulous, informative workshop!

Who REALLY Loves Webinars?

Who REALLY loves webinars? I don't. But, living in a virtual world and working nationally, I have to stay current. And, one inexpensive, easy way to gain more knowledge, connect with new people and stay current is to participate in webinars. SPARK asked me to do a webinar  and I was flattered. The topic was comprehensive school health programs. Sure! I knew that topic. I could do it in my sleep. The bigger challenge? Keeping people interested and engaged throughout the 45-55 minutes. So, I dug deep into my adult learning knowledge and trainer background. Since facilitating the webinar, 7 people have followed up with me including being asked to keynote in another state, and other potential school health consulting work. I even received an email that said, "Thanx for one of the best webinars I have viewed in a while.  Have a great weekend!:-)". It was the first webinar I've ever facilitated and the feedback has been really positive. So, I might as well share some tips, right?

What did I do to engage participants?

1. Before starting, I had a slide with fun info about me, the facilitator. And a funny photo.
2. I used a metaphor
3. Told a story throughout. Storytelling is an effective way to engage the brain.
4. Asked questions (twice) and asked for people to respond. Referred to submissions later on in the webinar. At end, we opened it up to questions.
5. Facilitated a physical activity, even though I couldn't see people participating, I asked them to take a photo with their camera and post it to Twitter using #GearUp4CSH. Offered a prize to two participants who submitted photos!

If you missed the webinar, feel free to listen to it here!