Last spring, Archbishop Bergan Elementary School was lucky enough to be chosen as a pilot school for SHAPE America’s new service-learning program, health. moves. minds.™ This was a tremendous opportunity!
Due to some flooding in our area, we didn’t start our pilot program until after the SHAPE America National Convention in Tampa. We had been very successful with fundraising programs in the past but had never started a program so late in the school year.
We had only about a month to complete the program but quickly saw how important health. moves. minds. was and how much our students enjoyed it. And, we were able to raise more money than ever before!
In the upcoming weeks, we will kick off year two of health. moves. minds. Looking back on last spring, here are the top 5 reasons we are excited to continue this program.
- We Need It! — The health. moves. minds. program is exactly what we were missing in our school! When I approached our administration about being a pilot school, the response was, “There is nothing like it, so yes it would be great.”
Kids are facing many issues and this program gives them some tools and ways to address those challenges. It also provides tools for parents to start having conversations with their child.
And, as a teacher you don’t have to be familiar with teaching social and emotional concepts — the lessons walk you through it all, step by step.
- It’s Fun — Since we got back to school this year, our students have been asking when we are going to start the health. moves. minds. program again. The lessons are exciting to them and easy for teachers to use.
Last spring, we tied our end-of-the-pilot celebration to the end of the year since they were so close together. We had about 300 people attend the family fun night, which was the night before the last day of school.
It was important to showcase all aspects of the program and allow parents to try out some of the health. moves. minds. lessons. We got the entire community involved including our booster club, which made meals for the families.
A community business provided discounted smoothie drinks all night along and the American Red Cross promoted an upcoming blood drive. In addition, the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension office provided blender bikes so students could make their own smoothies by pedaling.
We also had a variety of activities that parents and children could do together. After participating in an activity, they received a raffle ticket for our prize drawing. In all, we had more than 50 prizes ranging from sports equipment to autographed memorabilia. We even had a ukulele!
Our gym was transformed into a rest and relaxation zone, which allowed students to show parents how to do a Mindful Minute and different breathing exercises that can help them calm down before taking tests or in times of stress.
- Gopher Gift Cards — Our budget — like in so many schools — is minimal so these gift cards are extremely important! And, the cool part about the gift cards is they can be used across all Gopher platforms.
Last year we used some of our gift cards to help our fourth-grade classes turn their classrooms into active classrooms. This year we are partnering with a local nonprofit that provides a summer camp experience for students with autism.
Part of our school’s mission statement is service, so being able to help students who might not get to attend a summer camp really allows our students to live out our mission of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.
- Parent Resources — During our celebration event last spring, the parents were totally on board with how important the health. moves. minds. program is for making sure their children are healthy and well-rounded.
The resource the parents liked best was the Ditch the ‘How Was Your Day?’ conversation starter document, which helped them talk more with their child. We look forward to providing even more parent resources and take-home worksheets this year because they are all provided by SHAPE America in the health. moves. minds. toolkit.
- Expansion — This fall, we are going to expand the program to include our seventh- and eighth-grade classes. Due to the success of the program at the K-6 level, our middle school/high school counselor wants us to expand it. This will be the first program to be used with our middle school classes. Once SHAPE America has finalized health. moves. minds. lessons for the high school level, we will expand the program even more to offer it for K-12 in our school.
We learned a lot during our short pilot program last spring. We are excited to see the health. moves. minds. program grow because it really does have a chance to change the world!
SHAPE America provides everything you need to have a successful program. In education, we try to do what’s best for students, so I ask you to give this free program a shot. All our students can relate to health. moves. minds. in some way, and I was amazed at how much it changed our school culture. I’m sure it will improve your school as well.
Wyatt Morse has taught K-6 physical education at Archbishop Bergan Elementary School in Fremont, NE, for eight years. He is a former president of SHAPE Nebraska and currently serves as executive director of that organization. In addition to teaching, he is the head cross country coach and assistant boys golf coach.