Let’s Move! Active Schools is powered by a national collaborative 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 Tulita Elementary School in California has worked with Let’s Move! Active Schools to make 60 minutes of physical activity a day the norm.
Dr. Tanaz Farzad, principal of Tulita Elementary School in Redondo Beach Unified School District, understands how promoting an active lifestyle creates lasting impact. Farzad credits her involvement with Let’s Move! Active Schools and her district’s overall emphasis on healthy living with inspiring her to start running. She completed her first marathon in 2013: “When I set my mind to something, I can do it, and that’s what I share with my students.”
This commitment to modeling healthy behaviors and empowering students to take charge of their wellness goals not only led to culture change at Tulita; it also yielded exciting results. The percentage of fifth grade students who were classified as having a health risk for aerobic capacity fell 11 percent between 2011 and 2014, as measured by the statewide California Physical Fitness Test.
Starting the day in a healthy way
Faculty, staff and more than 160 parent volunteers work together to provide Tulita’s 526 students with curriculum enrichment and academic support programs designed to provide 60 minutes of physical activity before, during, and after the school day. In addition to their involvement with Let’s Move! Active Schools since 2012, they achieve this goal through a collaboration with the Beach Cities Health District, which provides training for programs like the Walking School Bus. Parent volunteers meet in designated neighborhoods to walk students along four Walking School Bus routes each day. The school generates excitement by promoting monthly themes like a holiday school bus or crazy sock day and staff join students and parents on theme days to show support.
Besides walking to school, early-rising Tulita students can also participate in the morning running club and 8-minute morning exercises. In its second year, the running club was formed in response to parents wanting to help their children perform better in school and improve focus in the morning. Three times a week, parent volunteers meet at the Tulita track to play music and tally the number of laps students run before the school day begins. At the end of the school year, Tuilta recognizes students for their accomplishments and throws a school-wide celebration.
Eight-minute morning exercises help Tulita students work towards their 60 minutes of daily physical activity and also provide an opportunity for older students to model healthy behaviors for younger ones. “Fifth grade leaders can find a lower-grade buddy to help them lead morning exercises, which makes the kids want to show off so that they can be chosen to help lead,” said Farzad. “Empowering older students helps the younger kids to have something to look forward to, and makes it cool to participate in healthy behaviors.”
Energizing students all year long
It can be challenging to keep the students engaged year-round. Staying abreast of what’s happening in nearby schools and the latest school health resources through the Let’s Move! Active Schools website allows Farzad and her staff to offer new and exciting opportunities for physical activity in the classroom. Tulita faculty incorporate short physical activity videos and Mind Up, a program that focuses on mindful breathing, to keep kids energized throughout the day. “Knowing that we are tied to the Let’s Move! Active Schools national recognition program empowers the staff to further explore further what they can do,” said Farzad.
Faculty model healthy habits
Farzad believes that modeling healthy behaviors has been the key to gaining support from her school community. “We have many parents and staff who enjoy explaining the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and they see how it can affect the greater learning community at school,” she said.
Tulita’s wellness council ‒ comprised of parent and staff volunteers ‒ meets regularly to strategize for future health initiatives. The group has succeeded in eliminating using food as a reward in the classroom and preventing teachers from taking away recess as a punishment. This year, Tulita replaced food-based fundraisers with a “Turkey Trot” jog-a-thon organized by the Parent Teacher Association, which raised $27,000 ‒ exceeding their goal by $10,000!
Tulita’s staff, parents and students are impacting their community by modeling healthy behaviors and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for the next generation. “It really was a baby step approach, one thing at a time. And now the entire staff is engaged ‒ whether using brain breaks or taking a quick walk around the block at lunch,” said Farzad. She believes Tulita’s culture will continue to empower students to achieve whatever they set their minds to.
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.