Transforming Student Outcomes at Brays Oaks
YES Prep Brays Oaks
As a charter district, YES Prep prioritizes academic needs over elective needs—this includes funding for PE, time for PE and physical activity, and activity space. But the student population at YES Prep Brays Oaks is approximately 56% overweight or obese, and many live in food deserts or have limited options when it comes to food choices. They come from families in densely populated, underserved neighborhoods. These students need more exposure to the joys of physical activity and the benefits it brings, such as grit, accomplishment, mental health—even academic success!
To help bring resources to the school, Kyle Stallard, Brays Oaks’ Fitness & Nutrition teacher, applied for and received a Game On grant. Says Stallard, “Action for Healthy Kids and the Game On grant gave me, a PE teacher, a platform to stand on to proclaim the importance of making health part of our school culture and students’ identity. With the funding, we get to do fun things that engage the wild adolescent brain. Our students don’t have to experience that ‘broken window’ theory where they see ragged equipment and treat their own health the same way. Instead, they see awesome equipment and fun food experiences to take ownership of their health.”
While Stallard works hard to initiate conversations and implement advocacy around changing education practices to incorporate the health of the whole child, students (over 300 each day) get to use brand new PE and fitness equipment to take charge of their health. A researched-based nutrition curriculum supplements the physical activity so that kids can take what they learn home with them.
A great example of the success of their grant and Stallard’s work is Brenda, a 13-year-old 7th grader at Brays Oaks. Brenda struggled through PE last year – she wasn’t invested in her health, nor was she meeting her class goals. This year, with the new equipment, new t-shirts as an earned incentive, and new nutrition education curriculum, Brenda has found her motivation. After earning her Brays Oaks PE t-shirt by meeting her heart rate goal, she can be found nearly every day wearing it proudly and wiping the sweat from her brow as she slams the new medicine balls and goes through rep after rep with new dumbbells. Brenda has also begun practicing volleyball and soccer outside of school.
Additionally, the nutrition curriculum has taught Brenda, in very practical ways, how to code food and understand her energy balance. She has worked hard to lower her BMI, a fact she’s proud to celebrate. Currently, Brenda is focused on making good portion size decisions; she told Stallard, “I’ve been making sure I eat smaller amounts than I used to. And I stay away from greasy foods.”
Thanks to all the healthy changes, Brenda and many of her schoolmates feel more focused and prepared during class this year.
This grant was made possible with funding from Saputo.