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Getting Students at Cahaba Elementary 60 Minutes of Movement and More

Cahaba Elementary School
Trussville, Alabama

Kids Playing In ClassroomCahaba Elementary School in Trussville, Alabama, was determined to get students moving more during the school day. Students received 30 minutes of physical education daily and 15 minutes of recess four days a week, which left them short of the total recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Administrators and staff saw an opportunity to make up some of that difference by incorporating movement in the classroom, but the school’s PE program had little equipment to share with classroom teachers.

PE teacher Jaime Giangrosso took matters into her own hands, applying for a Game On grant from Action for Healthy Kids in the hopes of being able to purchase more equipment to lend to teachers and also use for monthly family fitness nights. She was thrilled when the school was awarded a $1,000 grant sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to help them achieve their goals. Thanks to the grant, the school received an active classroom wellness kit full of equipment that classroom teachers could incorporate into their daily lessons, including beanbags, Yoga Bingo, juggling scarves, exercise bands, exercise dots, cones, fitness dice, ribbon wands, jump ropes, beach balls, and a brain booster idea book. All of the equipment was placed in a clear container in the school’s collaboration room so that teachers could use it as needed.

Giangrosso introduced teachers to the wellness kit during a professional development meeting where she explained each piece of equipment and shared ideas on how to incorporate it into classroom lessons. She said classroom teachers have since used the equipment for many math, science and reading lessons and provided positive feedback on their experiences.

“I have enjoyed using the beanbags for reading activities in my room,” said teacher Allie Aldrich. “The students really enjoy combining movement with reading.”

With teachers aiming to incorporate 15 minutes of physical activity in the classroom each day, students now receive the 60 recommended minutes and are more engaged in their lessons throughout the school day. Cahaba also uses the equipment during monthly family fitness nights, when parents are invited to come to the gym to participate in a PE class with their child. The school started the initiative to help educate families on being more active after school hours.

And that’s not the only school-wide health and wellness activity Cahaba hosts throughout the school year. In October, they recognize National Walk to School Day by encouraging students to walk or bike to school on the first Wednesday of the month. Later in October, they celebrate Turn Trussville Pink Day by discussing all the factors that contribute to healthy living and making cards for cancer patients. In February, the school hosts a Jump Rope for Heart family celebration day, where parents are invited to come to school and jump rope with their children. In April, to celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week, they host Walk at School Day in conjunction with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, inviting parents to the school again to walk with their children during PE class. This year’s turnout was better than ever, with several hundred families participating and volunteering as they try to make their school a healthier place.

To build on the success they’ve had with their health initiatives, Cahaba has been awarded a sustainability grant from AFHK for the 2018-2019 school year. With this funding, the school plans to start new programs and expand existing ones, such as their wellness kit. Way to go, Cahaba Elementary, for standing out as a wellness champion among schools!