A Small School With A Big Champion for Physical Activity
For small schools that don’t have the resources to offer a variety of sports and extracurricular activities, giving kids the opportunity to be physically active during the school day is critically important to their health and wellbeing. At Scotts Mills Elementary, a school of about 160 students located in the small community of Scotts Mills, Oregon, PE teacher Helen Plov is has been championing the effort to add more physical activity to the school day for two years now, and her efforts have been celebrated at Scotts Mills – especially during the Fire Up Your Feet Spring Activity Challenge!
“Helen was involved with writing a grant to fund a full time PE teacher (something our school has never had in the 30 years I have taught here!)” said first grade teacher Lisa Garrett, who cheered on Ms. Plov’s efforts and helped her class participate in the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge this spring. “She has inspired us all to be more active with monthly Wellness assemblies that focus on fun activities we can do anywhere-like walking or dancing!”
During the Challenge, all of the classrooms at Scotts Mills tracked the physical activity they did in class, during PE, and at recess. Ms. Plov would email reminders to the teachers each week and post on the school’s Facebook page to remind parents about keeping track of their family’s physical activity. She made it extra easy for families – all the parents had to do was reply to the Facebook post each week with the number of active minutes they had tracked, and Ms. Plov would enter the data on the Fire Up Your Feet website.
One of the new routines Ms. Plov helped put into place was having the students walk around the track for five minutes at the start of recess every day. “Not only does this get the students moving and improve their health, but the number of behavior-related referrals during recess time has gone down since we started the daily recess walking activity,” said Ms. Garrett. During PE class, Ms. Plov would set out popsicle sticks as students walked around the track so they could pick up a stick each time they completed a lap. Ms. Plov would keep track of how many laps the students walked each day and encourage them to challenge themselves to beat their own record from the day before.
Ms. Plov’s enthusiasm for physical activity has spread throughout the school, from students to teachers to parents. “Last year she organized a “Run to Rio” program for the students that involved them running enough miles to make it from our town to Rio for the Olympics. She then involved the staff by asking us all to pick a country, learn about it and parade in the country’s colors and costumes for a medal ceremony for all students- complete with a podium! The community loved it!” said Ms. Garrett. “She also organized the National Walk to school day by coordinating with our buses to let the kids off at the fire hall so that staff and students could walk to school together.”
Our students, staff and community are benefiting from the outstanding role that Helen is playing in the effort to add physical activity to our days! She would be a most deserving recipient for your Champion award!
The Fire Up Your Feet team would like to extend a warm congratulations and thanks to Ms. Plov for her dedication and passion as a champion for physical activity, and a high five to Scotts Mills Elementary for winning the Runner Up and Activity All Start prizes in the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge!