Despite more than 20 years of transforming Manorhaven Elementary’s physical education program, Maegara Regan’s wish list for the school is only getting longer: hire more physical education staff to help meet state standards, acquire an outdoor track, add an after-school physical activity program, and provide transportation to all before- and after school programs.
“If money grew on trees, we would be able to do all of these things with ease,” Regan said. “As it is, we work to find creative ways to achieve these goals.”
To help navigate the funding hurdles, Regan has relied partly on Let’s Move! Active Schools to find and acquire grants, as well as to discover creative ways to embed physical activity into the Manorhaven Elementary (Port Washington, NY) school day.
“The grant opportunities are one of the best parts of Let’s Move! Active Schools,” Regan said. “We rely heavily on grants, so we’ve been utilizing those opportunities a lot.”
Throughout the past few years, Regan and the physical education staff have earned an Active Schools Acceleration Grant, as well as other support from KIDS in the GAME and the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP). Equally important, they’ve take advantage of programs like GoNoodle and Adventure to Fitness to work regular movement breaks into the day.
“Being enrolled in Let’s Move! Active Schools has increased the entire school population’s awareness of the importance of physical activity during the school day,” said Regan. “Teachers have been seen giving their students extra recess when needed, along with incorporating movement with learning.”
Regan notes that the results of the “movement with learning” combination have gained praise from teachers, parents, and students alike.
“One of our kindergarten teachers just finished parent-teacher conferences, and one of the things parents wanted to talk about was GoNoodle,” she said. “The kids go home and talk about it all the time.”
Rhianna, a fifth grader at the school, added her approval of the in-class movement breaks: “Physical activity is important to me,” she started, “because it helps me stay fit and keeps me from stressing out.”
Rhianna’s fellow students will have even more opportunities to stay active in the near future. Thanks to exposure resulting from their 2015 Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award last fall, Manorhaven Elementary entered a partnership to build an “Action Based Learning Lab” within the school. The Learning Lab will include kinaesthetic desks and other features to more seamlessly blend physical activity with classroom learning.
“This is a big opportunity to get more movement into the classroom and to continue to connect it with learning,” said Regan.
Though money may not grow on trees, that clearly hasn’t stopped Regan and colleagues from finding creative ways to help students at Manorhaven Elementary stay active for at least 60 minutes each day.