Brain Breaks and Walking Wednesdays at Edgewood Elementary
Allison Baker, school nurse and wellness coordinator at Edgewood Elementary in Edgewood, Maryland, knew she could count on her students and staff to jump right in to the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge. “We have great teachers who are really invested in the kids here, and a very health conscious staff. When I heard about the Challenge, I brought it to the administrators and they were on board right away with passing that enthusiasm for activity onto our students,” said Ms. Baker.
During the Challenge, students and teachers looked for ways to easily add more physical activity into their daily routines. For example, coming in from recess they would take the long way in, or they would run up and down the hill a couple extra times. Students tracked their PE classes each week, as well as active brain breaks during class. Some classes even did dance breaks. In addition to regular daily active breaks, the school did Walking Wednesdays where students would do an extra walk around the playground area.
As the month went on, students started getting even more excited about the challenge. “Kids would come in and tell me, ‘Hey I had baseball last night’ or ‘My friend and I rode our bikes for two hours after school.’ They were excited because they knew their active minutes were getting tracked. Teachers were involved too, tracking their own activities like gym and yoga,” said Ms. Baker.
Ms. Baker recalls being impressed with the amount of participation and enthusiasm she saw from students, parents, and teachers alike. “It can be challenging to get the whole school community on board with something like this. I was really impressed with the amount of participation.”
By making a concerted effort to offer physical activity opportunities at school, Edgewood is helping its students be active in ways they might not be able to outside of school. “For kids in this neighborhood, it’s a little challenging to be active at home because it’s not the safest neighborhood to be outside playing in. A lot of them have parents who both work and can’t accompany them to play outside. It’s much safer for them to be active at school,” said Ms. Baker.
With the award money that Edgewood earned by taking home first place in the Challenge, the school is supporting Ms. Baker and the school counselor, Karen Cunningham, in getting certified to teach a program that brings yoga and mindfulness into schools. “We’ll use some of the money to purchase supplies for the program, and some professional development. We’re excited to plan the program over the summer and implement it next fall,” said Ms. Baker.
Edgewood believes in the value of physical activity for the complete health and wellbeing of its students – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. “We have a lot of behavior issues and attendance issues at school – kids have tough childhoods going on at home. To incorporate physical activity with improved behavior, attendance, and learning is the perfect fit for this school,” said Ms. Baker.