Holly Shelter Empowers Students to Take Ownership of Their Own Health

Let’s Move! Active Schools is powered by a national collaboration of leading health, education and private sector organizations that team up to offer schools and districts a comprehensive selection of physical education and physical activity resources, professional development, and funding opportunities. Schools receive guidance to ensure students have opportunities to be physically active and choose resources that work best for them.

Read on to learn how Holly Shelter Middle School in North Carolina has worked with Let’s Move! Active Schools and one of its programs, the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, to make 60 minutes of physical education and physical activity the norm.

Randy Miskech, physical education teacher at Holly Shelter Middle School in Castle Hayne, North Carolina has been a source of inspiration in his community, championing his school’s effort to build a healthier environment for students to learn and grow. When Holly Shelter opened a few years ago, Misketch wanted to instill healthy behaviors in his students and staff from the start. With the support of administrators, he sought out a structured, standard-based health program and ultimately joined Let’s Move! Active Schools.

“When I came to this school, my mission was to secure a physical education program that provided daily education to the kids,” Miskech said. With the support of school administrators and colleagues, Miskech was able to realize his goal in just a few short years. With the help of his team, Holly Shelter Middle School implemented a variety of programs and activities to improve the health of its students and staff and earned Let’s Move! Active Schools national recognition in 2014.

Staff Support Builds School Momentum

Gaining support from staff was crucial to the success of Miskech’s efforts. “Everybody focuses on the kids, but if your staff is not willing to buy-in to what you’re doing, then you’re doomed from the start,” he said. The school’s staff stay energized by planning employee-only healthy activities including a Teacher Trot 5K, “Biggest Loser” competition, and a “Beach to Barstow” competition where staff team up to accumulate the most miles of biking, running or walking.

Miskech feels lucky to be supported by his administration and continues to work closely with Holly Shelter’s leadership team to increase physical education time at school. The school allocated funds to hire a fourth physical education teacher, providing the needed resources for every student to have 55 minutes of physical education each day.

“We’re keeping these kids moving every day,” he said. Holly Shelter Middle school surpassed the Let’s Move! Active Schools target of engaging all students physical activity for at least 60 minutes before, during, and after the school day. “We are the only middle school in our district that requires physical education every day,” said Miskech. All 762 students participate in a total of 115 minutes of daily physical activity, including 20 minutes of recess, Monday through Friday.

Teachers have even started to use physical activity as a reward for positive behavior through the school’s Positive Behavior in Schools plan. Students earn rewards such as added time in the weight room or on the basketball court and also have the opportunity to take part in the Girls on the Run or Boys Stride programs after school where they train for a 5K race. 


Achieving goals with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program

During the 2014-2015 school year, Miskech began using the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, a Let’s Move! Active Schools-recommended resource that helps physical educators assess, track, and recognize youth fitness and physical activity. At the beginning of the year, students establish a baseline fitness level. Then, during their daily physical education classes, they work on specific components of fitness throughout the year including flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular health to gauge improvement by year’s end. For one week out of every month, students spend their physical education time in the fitness room, which is equipped with treadmills, weights, and stationary bikes to focus specifically on their fitness components.

The program’s goal-setting and reinforcement of skills has led to impressive results. “The Presidential Youth Fitness Program establishes a process the students can identify with throughout the school year,” said Miskech. “It has a built-in structure in which kids can constantly get feedback and their improvement is inevitable.”

Building a more active community

Miskech knows that family involvement will reinforce his efforts in improving the health status of his students. To involve families in the Castle Hayne community, Holly Shelter hosts a monthly “Family Fit Night” for parents and students to attend at no cost. With the support of community partners, Miskech plans a wide range of activities including Zumba, self-defense techniques, basketball, Pilates, and more.

Moving forward, Miskech hopes to continue to build on the school’s success, involving the wider community as well. “I would love to develop a community ropes program,” he said.

Coach’s Corner

Empowering students to take ownership of their own health is what Miskech and his staff are all about. “We’re going to create a generation that is responsible for their health,” he said. “We’re working hard. We’re fighting the fight. You just have to take it one step at a time.”

Share your school’s stories by emailing [email protected] or join the movement to bring physical activity back to our nation’s schools! Enroll in Let’s Move! Active Schools and become an Active School today.


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