Game On Grant Makes Port Allen a Happier, Healthier School
Port Allen Elementary
Port Allen, Louisiana
Today, school breakfast at Louisiana’s Port Allen Elementary School is a shining example of how Grab ‘N’ Go Breakfast should work.
With the help of a $1,000 Game On grant funded by GoGo squeeZ, designated in part to help the school revamp its breakfast program, students are now greeted by administrators at the doors of the auditorium when they arrive in the morning and then have the opportunity to peruse a line of tables offering milk, Grab ‘N’ Go breakfast items, and extra fruits. With breakfast in hand, they then walk down the hallway to their classroom to eat at their desk or table. Students who are tardy can receive Grab ‘N’ Go breakfast from the office as their parents check them in. Those who aren’t hungry first thing in the morning have until the end of the first recess period to consume any nonperishable items. The breakfast participation rate: 99%.
But that wasn’t always the case. Prior to the 2017-2018 school year, students ate breakfast in the cafeteria, and those who were tardy wouldn’t receive breakfast at all. The result was a 73% participation rate at best, and it was apparent to teachers that some students were hungry and not ready to learn without their essential needs met.
The other, equally problematic challenge staff and administrators faced was a lack of physical activity among students. With the help of the Game On grant, however, they were able to purchase new equipment such as basketball goals, basketballs, jump ropes, footballs, soccer balls, and hula hoops for students to use during recess. An additional grant from the organization EatMoveGrow helped the school turn an outdoor concrete area into a painted play space, offering more options for play as well as an alternative to the grassy area when it was too wet due to weather. Port Allen also purchased enough new P.E. equipment to allow all class members to participate in activities and incorporated Action Based Learning equipment into math and reading intervention classrooms so that students could remain active while learning.
The results speak for themselves: The student activity level at Port Allen has increased by 17%, and the number of students who are engaged in MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity) has grown by 38%.
“Since the implementation of outdoor equipment and the painted play space, more students are actively engaged in recess – and they are more focused after,” said Stephanie Bourque, first grade reading interventionist and P.E. teacher.
Kristy Butler, Port Allen’s K-2 reading interventionist, agreed.
“I see a difference in the classroom following recess,” she said. “When the children have more to do, they are happier and more apt to engage and interact with classmates.”
The school has made other positive changes as well. Staff members have been educated on the importance of purchasing Smart Snacks for their students, and the district office has provided the school with a filtered water dispenser, prompting many teachers to purchase water bottles for their students to keep in the classrooms. As a result, students’ daily water consumption has increased. Students also now decorate the lunchroom with their artwork for each holiday/season, as well as update the breakfast and lunch menus daily and post them in two areas of the school. In addition, Port Allen’s second grade students work with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center on its school garden.
In December 2017, Port Allen also participated in Pedaling 4 PE, a four-day, 377-mile bicycle ride celebrating OPEN, a no-cost, quality physical education curriculum that links movement to increased academic performance for Louisiana’s underserved, rural schools. The event was sponsored by EatMoveGrow and US Games, while AFHK, Fuel Up to Play 60, and other agencies partnered to join in support of the celebration. The bicycle tour kicked off at Port Allen and stopped at several schools that have received GameOn grants from Action from Healthy Kids.
Port Allen P.E. teacher Stephanie Bourque said the event was a big success, with many local dignitaries coming out to celebrate the school’s growth in becoming a healthier school. And because of that immense growth, Port Allen was selected as an EatMoveGrow Celebration School as part of the Pedaling4PE event.
“We are truly grateful for the support, grants and resources from EatMoveGrow, Action for Healthy Kids, and GoGo squeeZ that have helped us grow into a happier and healthier school,” Bourque said.