By Jennifer Krystopowicz June 20th, 2014 11:00 AM
It’s a Tuesday morning and 30 students, all wearing bright blue and yellow tee shirts, are running, squatting, planking, jumping, and laughing to the beat of music. The time is only 8:00 am, but these students have already done more physical activity than most adults do in a day. No, this is not their physical education class. This is a typical morning at Tyler Elementary, where students in the BOK’s program come to participate in physical exercise through fun games and activities before the start of the school day.
According to their website, BOKS (Build Our Kids’ Success) is a free before-school physical activity program initiated by Reebok and the Reebok Foundation. BOKS was created by a group of moms after reading Dr. John Ratey’s book Spark, which states that, “exercise is the single most powerful tool that we have to optimize the function of our brains.” The goal of the BOKS program is to enhance academic performance and the overall health of kids through physical activity. The program, run by moms, dads, P.E. teachers and all other types of volunteers in local communities, is simple to implement. BOKS currently operates in close to 1,000 schools around the world.
I learned about the program through a friend, Ewunike, who is the regional director of BOKS for the DC area. As soon as I heard about it, my first thought was “I need to get this program started at Tyler.” Not only would it bring health and wellness to the school, but it would give me an opportunity to participate in something that I am a fanatic about outside of teaching: physical activity. After Ewuinke gave a presentation to my principal, Tyler was signed up and ready to start our first session in the fall. As the lead trainer, I attended a training day where I received the full curriculum of BOKS, including the daily schedule, skills, and activities to follow for the entire year.
Tyler now runs BOKS on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7:45-8:30am for 12 weeks in the fall and 12 weeks in the spring. The program is open to all students, K-5. Each day begins with a warm up (locomotor movement or specific stretch), followed by a quick running game or exercise, then review of the skill of the week with practice time, followed by a fun game, and ending with a nutritional take away. Skills of the week include planks, burpees, donkey kicks, metric run, jumping jacks, and other traditional movements that are essential to healthy living.
Students who participate in BOKS not only have a blast playing fun games – they also get the recommended daily dose of exercise. My students all love the games that BOKS has created, and they remain energized throughout the entire session. Most importantly, many teachers who work with students in the BOKS program have told me that they have noticed a difference in their students. On BOKS days, these students perform better because they are more focused and ready to learn. It has been so rewarding for me to see how bringing BOKS in my local school has made a direct impact on the students’ health, nutrition, and learning.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being recognized by BOKS as a “Champion of Change” for my commitment to creating a healthier future for children at Tyler. Along with 15 lead trainers from across the country, BOKS celebrated us for our efforts at BOKS Active Kids Day at the Reebok Headquarters in Massachusetts.