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New Equipment Helps Keep Students Active Indoors

St. Edmund School
Brooklyn, New York

Kids Exercise in ClassroomStudents at St. Edmund – a small, K-8 Catholic school in Brooklyn, New York – typically spend their 30 minutes of daily recess playing in one of the parking lots adjacent to the school. But when a construction project began last year, they lost use of their outdoor play space and had to move recess indoors. Unfortunately, the school had very little physical activity equipment for the kids to play with, making it a challenge for them to find ways to be active.

One parent took it upon herself to change that. Knowing that St. Edmund didn’t have the resources to purchase new equipment on its own, mom Indira Sweeney began looking online for possible sources of funding. When she came across the Action for Healthy Kids website and read about its Game On Grants – awarded to schools looking to implement physical activity and nutrition initiatives – she knew it was a perfect fit. St. Edmund applied for and received a $1,000 grant sponsored by GoGo squeeZ, which it used to purchase equipment for all types of indoor games and activities. Teachers set up different stations throughout the hallways and classrooms during recess time so students could choose the activity they wanted to play.

“When all the boxes of equipment arrived, I couldn’t believe all the new things the students now have to do during indoor recess: hopscotch, indoor ‘snowball’ fights, jai alai (a game that involves using oblong baskets to hurl a goatskin ball against a granite wall),” said PTA Coordinator Lisa Sessa. “This is making a big difference in their school day and giving the teachers a new way of providing activity during the day.”

And that includes not only recess, but also PE classes and the school’s daily after-school program.

“I had been asking for some new indoor gym equipment for a while, but … there were a lot of projects that had to be done first,” said PE teacher Anne Engelbrecht. “I got new soccer equipment and new indoor balls from the grant. I’m very happy, and so are the children!”

In addition to the funding, the school benefited from some other resources from AFHK. While Sweeney was browsing the AFHK website, she came across information on indoor recess activities teachers hadn’t considered before, as well as brain breaks, which were new to them. The teachers liked the idea of trying something new, so they started introducing brain breaks and using physical activity cards in their classrooms.

“I love the AFHK website – there are loads of resources that I share with teachers,” Sweeney said.

Classroom teachers have begun to understand the value of physical activity and making brain breaks part of their curriculum, Sweeney said – and, thanks to all the new equipment, students now get a solid 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day during recess.