BC Teachers Get Their Students Moving

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Action Schools! BC trainer Debbie Keel encourages teachers to break up their classroom routine with 15 minutes of chair aerobics or by singing the action-oriented Tony Chestnut song. By getting students moving, both students and teachers can stay better focused.

Action Schools! BC enables teachers and administrators to deliver physical activity and healthy eating opportunities to students. Through the program, teachers receive resources and training to help them become comfortable leading their students in a workout.

"The kids love it when their teachers break up the day with physical activity. I enjoy seeing the transformation in teachers who were once reluctant to join Action Schools and who now say they can't believe they waited this long," said Keel, who works in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district and provides training around the province.

Since starting five years ago, Action Schools! BC has grown to 1,500 registered elementary and middle schools, involving 15,450 teachers and administrators, in every school district in BC. Initial research tracking the program's impact indicated students in Action Schools! BC classrooms were physically active for 50 minutes more per week, and had better aerobic capacity and bone density than students in classrooms that weren't participating.

In addition, Action Schools! BC is responding to Statistics Canada's findings that 59 per cent of Canadian children consume less than the recommended five daily servings of fruit or vegetables. In September 2007, a healthy eating component for teachers to deliver in the classroom was launched.

"Every teacher and classroom is different and what works for one, may not work for another," said Keel.

Some teachers use activity DVDs or CDs; others prefer to lead students without aids or equipment. Action Schools! BC provides a range of models from which teachers can choose.

Action Schools! BC promotes incorporating physical activity and healthy eating into regular classroom activities in BC schools. The program is supported by the Province of British Columbia.