Lori Rose Benson is Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health, a proud partner of the Active Schools Movement. She also serves as a member of the Strategic Advisory Council and was named Partner of the Year at the 2019 Active Schools Partner Summit.
If a child is sitting too long, they are missing out on vital moments that can help them learn. At Hip Hop Public Health, it is our mission to promote health equity among youth using an innovative array of media tools that harness the transformative power of music to foster healthy behaviors. Some of those tools are designed specifically to help classroom teachers incorporate movement into their lessons. Because as proud partners in the Active Schools Movement, we know that ACTIVE KIDS LEARN BETTER!
Founded in 2006 by Columbia University’s Chief of Staff of Neurology, Dr. Olajide Williams, and the legendary rapper Doug E. Fresh, Hip Hop Public Health believes that physical activity should be engaging, culturally-responsive and evidence-based. It is our goal to empower youth around the globe with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices so that together we can reduce preventable health conditions and improve the quality of their lives.
We’ve seen firsthand the impact that movement has on a student’s day, especially when we incorporate music and dance into these activities. When we first piloted H.Y.P.E. The Breaks at the St. Simon Stock middle school in New York City, students raved about the resources and were motivated to lead more physically active lifestyles. The excitement even flowed into family time and kids encouraged their parents to dance at home.
What a lot of classroom teachers don’t realize is that they can contribute to their students’ need for physical activity while simultaneously teaching and reinforcing academic concepts in an engaging way. We want to change that.
Through our partnership with Active Schools, we are featuring a free instructional video series aimed at helping classroom teachers take the leap into creating active classroom environments. The H.Y.P.E. Breakin’ It Down series is comprised of twenty 2-minute hip-hop dance breaks, breaking down fundamental hip-hop moves. All of the videos can be done in limited space and many of them can even be done while seated. No prior hip hop experience necessary! Too often, hip-hop is stereotyped and gets a bad rep. However, when you dig deep into the genre and its roots, it’s a story of resilience and metamorphosis that many children can relate to.
We hope our tools can help spark passion for physical activity in the classroom and motivate teachers and students to get moving.
For more information about Active Classrooms Week including toolkits to help plan and get the word out, check out the Active Classrooms Week page.