A multi-team collaboration in elementary schools around the state has earned a first-in-the-nation achievement, according to the West Virginia Department of Education. A West Virginia University team played a critical role in the effort.

All 441 West Virginia public elementary schools have joined the Let’s Move! Active Schools Program, a national movement to help schools provide 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

The program is designed to provide resources and tools to increase physical activity opportunities for students and to cultivate an “active school” environment. The Let’s Move! Active Schools Program creates a positive culture of learning and playing.

“As part of the campaign, my colleagues and I began working with program representatives to develop and display an interactive map of West Virginia on the WV Physical Activity Plan website to track county participation in the LMAS national initiative. The map populated counties with names of schools who registered,” explained Eloise Elliott, Ware Distinguished Professor in WVU’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

The range of partners who provide essential support reflects the team-oriented essence of the initiative. WV Bureau for Public Health provided funding for workshops, faculty in WVU’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences organized workshops and provided expertise in their delivery and evaluation. Meanwhile, teachers throughout the state helped provide workshop leadership.

In 2013, Mary Weikle, then coordinator of Health and Physical Education, and her colleagues in the WVDE began the Let’s Move WV campaign to get West Virginia schools more physically active.

Elliott notes that by the fall 2014, the team was able to encourage 210 schools to register, which included at least one school from all 55 counties in West Virginia. As a result the group gained national recognition from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition and the national LMAS initiative as the first state in the country to accomplish such a goal.

Over the last year, Josh Grant, current coordinator of Physical Education in the WVDE Office of Middle/Secondary Learning, has continued to inspire schools to become involved in LMAS. He set the goal for all 441 public elementary schools in the state to become LMAS schools.

“Congratulations to Josh and his team for this great accomplishment and for continuing to showcase West Virginia as a leader in school physical activity in the country,” said Elliott.

West Virginia teachers play the most important role in the process. Once they understood the science and reasoning behind the state’s focus on comprehensive school physical activity, they became champions for the cause on their own, explained Elliott.

The current school initiative is a reflection of a positive culture shift in physical activity promotion in all state schools. As outlined in the state’s ActiveWV 2016: WV Physical Activity Plan released in 2012 (wvphysicalactivity.org), school physical activity should include a comprehensive approach that includes physical education, plus physical activity opportunities before, during and after school.

The Plan also notes that school-based program improvements are dependent on greater accountability to achieve national/state physical activity requirements and related professional development, and exemplary schools should be recognized for their achievements.

In July 2014, the WV Board of Education passed Policy 2510 that requires K-8 schools to provide 30 minutes of physical activity time outside of physical education class each day. Since the policy was enacted, the WVDE and their partners have provided professional development opportunities to more than 500 teachers and administrators around the state on integrating physical activity throughout the school day.

Active Academics (activeacademics.org), a web-based resource for classroom teachers created by Elliott, is being used extensively in West Virginia to help schools meet the new requirements of WVBE Policy 2510 to help increase physical activity opportunities throughout the school day.

According to the WVDE, the next step is to evaluate where schools are with respect to physical education and physical activity, to provide more professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators and to showcase the great accomplishments of schools in helping students become more physically active throughout the school day.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Kim Cameon, WVU CPASS 304.293.0827 kimberly.cameon@mail.wvu.edu

kc/08/03/16

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