Let’s Move! Active Schools Helps Central Harlem Middle School Overcome Structural Challenges

Serving as a physical educator for middle-school students in the heart of Central Harlem brings no shortage of challenges.

“We are competing with a great deal of competition: fast food, video games, lack of safe parks with adequate equipment, lack of parental engagement and the list goes on,” said Shavon Glover, physical educator and Wellness Coordinator at Harlem’s Renaissance Leadership Academy.

Throughout her five years at the school, Glover’s task has been to navigate these difficulties and find creative ways to get all students excited about physical activity. Let’s Move! Active Schools, she says, has been critical in that pursuit.

“Since joining Let’s Move! Active Schools and utilizing its many resources, we have been able to increase our student participation throughout the day and especially during physical education classes,” Glover said.

Due to the school’s scarcity of space for physical activity, Glover notes that making the most of each minute of movement has been especially important for her students.

“Our school is currently located in a building that houses three additional schools,” Glover said. “The challenge has been having all administrators ensure that each school receives the mandated PE time.”

To increase the amount of physical activity each student experiences throughout the school day, Glover took advantage of a Let’s Move! Active Schools resource and attended a Physical Activity Leader (PAL) Learning System training. The training session empowered her to work with classroom teachers to integrate movement into other classroom subjects.

“That training was so fulfilling,” said Glover. “I got a chance to learn new activities that actually incorporated math, literacy and science. I was able to apply what learned at the PAL training by exposing my students to different movement sequences and sharing the importance of applying physical activity across all content areas.”

Glover also worked with classroom teachers to implement GoNoodle, a Let’s Move! Active Schools resource that helps teachers to incorporate physical activity into their lessons with short, interactive activities. Going beyond the traditional implementation, Glover combined GoNoodle with a friendly “movement competition” where students were encouraged to work in teams to acquire points.

While the PAL Learning System training and GoNoodle helped to alleviate some of the school’s infrastructural limitations, Glover has learned that engaging middle school students in physical activity is a challenge of its own.

“Middle school is usually the stage where students are experiencing body changes and adjustments, and often times are reluctant to participate in movement out of fear of being ridiculed.”

Glover notes that encouraging female students to be active at this age has been particularly challenging task. So, she’s made extra effort to align her physical education curriculum with the everyday interests of the students. After joining Let’s Move! Active Schools, for example, she came across the Let’s Move! Flash Workout dance video featuring Beyoncé, which immediately resonated with her students.

“Through using the dance videos, I discovered that many of our female students loved to dance, so I took that concept and ran with it,” Glover said.

The school has also increased its morning fitness classes to students, which Glover notes is especially appealing to the female students.

“We now have the tools – Let’s Move! Active Schools, GoNoodle, and other resources,” Glover started. “Therefore, I’m hoping to continue to create innovative and engaging lessons that will have everyone moving.”

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