This Is How My School Stocks Up on Kindness … and PE Equipment

As a physical education teacher, I have been doing school fundraisers for 23 years. For 18 of those years, I did Hoops for Heart through the American Heart Association. In spring 2019, my school, Odessa Upper Elementary, was one of the pilot schools for SHAPE America’s health. moves. minds. FUNdraiser, and 2022-2023 was our fifth year of participation.  

I started participating in health. moves. minds. because of the lessons (and there are a lot of them) and because I receive a lot more giveback to my school. I alternate each year between the option that gives our school the full 50% back and the option where we get 25% and our chosen charity gets the other 25%.

So far, we have supported our local Police Canine Unit (helping them get a new dog) and our Parks and Recreation Department. We are looking to help multiple charities in our community over time.

Funds for PE Equipment and More

Raising donations during the fundraiser period (which lasts about four weeks at my school) is a game changer for my school. My PE equipment closet is now busting at the seams, so I’ve started gifting classroom teachers with a portion of the funds I get back.

This year, I gave each neighborhood (grade level) $1,500 so they could get alternative seating, brain break activities, and stand-up desks. By doing this fundraiser, we are getting things we don’t have a budget for and wouldn’t normally have the chance to purchase.

Kindness-Themed Lessons for Health & PE

I use the health. moves. minds. lessons throughout the school year. They are detailed and ready for a teacher to use — and I am blown away with what they do for my school community. While it is primarily me and the school counselor that implement the actual lessons, our entire building uses the lessons and fundraiser theme in some way.

Last year’s health. moves. minds. theme was Amplify Kindness. Our art class made their own guitar and posters, and some of the teachers used the Emoji Rating Scale to build relationships with students by asking how they were doing and then talking later one-on-one if needed. One class was learning math multiplication facts that translated into making a “Be Kind” quilt artwork board with those multiplication facts in them. Almost every hallway had bulletin boards using the theme.

Kristi Bieri, PE teacher at Odessa Upper Elementary, shows off her school’s Amplify Kindness mural.

Throughout the school, students are learning to be mindful, kind and respectful because of health. moves. minds. Respectful listening is an important lesson that has carried over into classrooms because of the impact it had during assemblies. We celebrate our custodians, lunch attendants, and resource officers by making cards and posters showing appreciation. By spreading the lessons and theme throughout the school, we hope it carries over into the community.

Having Fun and Giving Back

During our health. moves. minds. FUNdraiser, I don’t make it about the rewards or incentives. I emphasize that it is a community service project — we are building things up in our school and community. I like that the program is such an eye opener to students.

For example, in the lesson From Here to There, each team doesn’t get the same equipment and some students don’t realize it until they are done because they are so focused on the activity. When the activity is over, we talk about the fact that one team had to finish with fewer items to help them and how that relates to students who all come to school, that not everyone has the same resources to help them do things they need to. We talk about what those items in the activity might represent, like not having enough food or sleep.

I like to make it FUN when we are fundraising. I ask the students what school incentives they would like to see (beyond the four rewards they can get from SHAPE America). It’s important to get the students’ feedback about what they want the fundraiser to look like and what they think we need.

Last year we had a dunk tank, students could have their picture taken in front of the Amplify Kindness Wall, and we gave away a guitar (because of the musical theme). The parent of the winning student shared that he is really trying to learn to play, so this may be a new musician who may not have tried it without our fundraiser.

I also let the top fundraising student take the Gopher catalog home and bring back suggestions on what PE equipment to order with the funds we received back to our school.

PE Teacher Kristi Bieri (far left), Assistant Principal Amanda Smith (second from left), Principal Chris Doering (far right), and top fundraising students.

If there is one thing I would tell a school to encourage them to participate in the health. moves. minds.FUNdraiser, it’s this: The program is really a great way to help your PE program, help a charity if you choose to, and change the environment in your school.

This post is adapted from an article that was originally published in the fall 2023 issue of In the Zone.

Additional Resources

Kristi Bieri

Kristi Bieri is a physical education teacher at Odessa Upper Elementary School in Odessa, MO, and the Missouri AHPERD Special Projects Coordinator.