As you may be aware of, SHAPE America’s new service-learning program, health. moves. minds., has launched across the United States!
I was thrilled to pilot the program for the state of Kentucky during September. And, now that my school’s health. moves. minds. experience is complete, I want to tell you about four critical components that will help you, your students and your school have a positive health. moves. minds. experience.
1. Get Your Principal’s Support for health. moves. minds.
First and foremost, you must get your principal on board with the overall message and theme of the program. I requested a meeting with my principal so we could discuss the program without interruption.
Here are the three “selling points” I shared with my principal:
- The health. moves. minds. program focuses on the mental and emotional health of our students. Students will learn about mindfulness and how kindness impacts our everyday lives. In addition, this program focuses on social and emotional learning, which plays an important part in the lives of our students each day, especially while at school.
- This program doesn’t cost anything. In fact, the fundraising platform will allow our school to keep up to 50% of every dollar we raise. We will use the money to help create a more physically active environment at our school. I also agreed to “shoulder” all responsibilities and take the lead, as long as my principal approved of certain requests (see “Get Teachers Involved” below).
- School-wide programs like this usually always help improve school culture and morale, especially if implemented with a lot of energy and passion (which I promised to do).
2. Promote the Program
Once your principal says “yes” to the program, the next step is to promote it within your school to get others on board.
Since we were going to run the health. moves. minds. program throughout the month of September, I hung health. moves. minds. posters around the school building at the end of August. This generated some excitement and sparked curiosity with students and staff.
To further promote the program, I appeared on our school’s morning broadcast every day. I talked about the health. moves. minds. implementation calendar (see “Get Teachers Involved”) and gave shout-outs to students and families who contributed to the fundraising efforts.
No matter how big or how small the donation, every student who contributed was recognized. Kids love to hear their name on the school-wide broadcast, so this simple act made them feel important — and let them know their donation was appreciated.
I was always mindful of the length of these morning broadcast segments. Teachers value their morning routines and instructional time, so the health. moves. minds. segments were never more than five minutes long. However, these short segments generated daily excitement and enthusiasm for the health. moves. minds. program.
3. Get Teachers Involved
This may be the most challenging task to complete but it’s also the one that can make the health. moves. minds. program much more memorable and enjoyable for everyone. Classroom teachers are often leery of any program that takes away from instructional time, so it’s important to show how health. moves. minds. can actually improve the quality of instructional time.
I began by getting my principal’s permission to give a presentation about health. moves. minds. at a faculty meeting, approximately three weeks before our September 4 launch date.
During this meeting, I shared the health. moves. minds. implementation calendar and classroom thermometers, which I created so classroom teachers wouldn’t have to do additional work.
The implementation calendar showed a daily task and mindfulness activity for students to complete. During each day’s morning broadcast, I would clarify daily tasks and introduce the topic of the mindfulness video.
The only thing teachers needed to do was to designate approximately 10-12 minutes of their instructional time to complete the daily tasks and mindfulness videos.
Because the principal had approved of this implementation calendar, teachers had permission to follow through. And, by getting teachers involved, students naturally began to believe in the significance of the program.
Getting teacher buy-in is crucial because in order to make health. moves. minds. a school-wide program, it must be implemented in all classes, not just in physical education.
In addition to giving each teacher an implementation calendar, we placed a “thermometer” outside each classroom door to show specific fundraising benchmarks.
Each classroom was challenged to spell out the word “kindness” or “mindfulness,” depending on the grade level. For every $25 a classroom raised, they received a letter toward the completion of their word. For every $50 raised, they earned a reward.
These thermometers served as visuals to the students as to what kind of progress was being made toward the school’s fundraising efforts. Each time a classroom earned a reward they were recognized on the morning broadcast.
This simple strategy motivated many students to donate toward the cause. In addition, friendly competition can often lead to greater results.
4. Get Families and the Community Involved
After generating excitement inside your own building, it’s important for the excitement to “overflow” into the community.
I sent a weekly letter home to all families beginning the week prior to our launch date. These letters included:
- Information about the health. moves. minds. program and daily activities that students would be participating in.
- Details about the program’s online fundraising component and classroom incentives.
- Facts about our culminating event, which took place on Friday, September 27.
To complete our health. moves. minds. experience, students took part in a community Color Walk, which was essentially an outside health fair geared toward mental and emotional health. We invited community organizations to participate in this event and asked that they set up a booth on one of the neighborhood streets surrounding our school.
During the Color Walk, students walked approximately one mile and visited the nine booths. Parents and family members were also invited, and we had approximately 100 family members in attendance.
To generate excitement with our Board of Education, we invited our district’s director of communications to do a story on our health. moves. minds. experience, which was posted on our district website. We also invited the local media to attend the Color Walk. This led to news stories by our local paper, The Pioneer News, and one of our local news outlets.
I hope reading about my experience will encourage you to sign up for the health. moves. minds. program today!
Unfortunately, I believe that poor mental and emotional health is affecting the lives of many students today — and impacting every area of their lives.
If we as health and physical educators can commit to implementing programs such as health. moves. minds., we can make a difference in the lives of our students!
- About the health. moves. minds. Program
- Getting Started Guide for Schools/Teachers (video)
- Tips for Speaking With Your Principal About health. moves. minds.
Todd Crumbacker is a physical education teacher at Overdale Elementary School in Bullitt County, KY. He is also a member of the KAHPERD Board of Directors. His school completed the health. moves. minds. program in September 2019. He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tc4pe.