Connecting Play and Physical Activity at E.L. Musick Elementary
There is a schoolwide passion for sports at E.L. Musick Elementary School in Newark, California. These students crave “play”, so motivating them to be active through the Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge wasn’t a difficult task.
The Parent Teacher Association presented the challenge to the school and the students ran with it. The hardest part was teaching the students the benefits of tracking their physical activity. With the support of PE teacher Derrick Watson, not only did the students pick up on the importance of tracking physical activity as a school community, but also took great pride in seeing how well they were doing.
Some teachers have gone as far as starting an intramural flag football league during lunch recess to promote organized games for kids to play. Lunchtime football is quickly becoming a favorite activity for students. Many of the students are also involved in sports outside of school, so they tracked their practice hours. This had the pleasant, unexpected consequence of motivating other students to find extracurricular activities so that they would have something to track. Also, teachers are scheduling active field trips such as a bowl-a-thon in an effort to continue to promote schoolwide fitness.
Close to 70 percent of E.L. Musick Elementary students ride their bike or walk to school, with nearly 50 percent still walking on rainy days. An easy way to get in physical activity, students were encouraged to track their walks and bike rides to and from school as part of the challenge. They would love for Safe Routes to School to be incorporated at their school with education through safety reminders since the school is in an area with a lot of traffic.
The Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge had a huge impact on E. L. Musick’s students, creating a sense of schoolwide accomplishment and pride while at the same time reinforcing just how important an active lifestyle is for the health and well-being of the students, faculty and the community as a whole.
PE teacher Watson said, “My favorite experience from helping the students with this challenge was seeing how empowered the students became as they would tell me their part of our success. I would show a class our spot on the leaderboard and they would all want to share their experiences being active. This promoted a strong sense of pride in students being active which in turn encouraged more kids to be active. It's my passion help kids get out and play, so I love seeing this!”