Alexander D. Sullivan School PS #30 is an elementary school (Pre-K-Grade 5) in the Greenville section of Jersey City, NJ. Valerie Craig-Ndiaye is the Wellness Leader, and she shared her story with us on how Let’s Move! Active Schools helped make her school a leader in physical education.
We have a team of about 8 members from classroom reps, school nurse, food services, parents and administration. I have always heard of Let’s Move! Active Schools from the news and from the NJAHPERD convention which I attend every year. My district became involved through our commitment through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program (HSP). The two organizations worked together since many of the criteria were similar and streamlined the application process.
The Alexander D. Sullivan School was the first and only school in the entire district in the Jersey City Public School to win recognition from the Alliance and Let’s Move! Active Schools within the first year of the district signing on with the Alliance. Since that day, I have helped 11 schools win recognition through both organizations. Within three years, our district went from one school to eleven schools making the changes supported by the Let’s Move! Active Schools. This school year marks our 4th year participating in Let’s Move! Active Schools.
I have always believed that physical education is a crucial part of any child’s education. Children who are active and eating healthy are going to make a better school. My job was to get everyone else on board and help create moments to incorporate more physical activity. The children were always on board to do more physical education. My favorite story to tell is a new student transferred into our school and was shocked when he saw how hard the students worked for me and my co-PE teacher. He could barely keep up and tried to discourage a few kids to not do the work. He told them that where he came from they didn’t do exercises like that, and that his old teacher just let them play. One of our students turned to him and said “welcome to PS #30 gym!”. That’s when I knew the kids understood and were taking ownership.
We were a school whose only movement came from physical education classes to all classes participating in brain breaks 2 or 3 times a day. As a positive behavior incentive, we would give students in grades 3-5 additional periods of physical education.
The entire school became involved in the changes. From giving students positive behavior tickets for trying a new vegetable, to finding the time to do the GoNoodle.com program, which encourages movement through brain breaks. I registered every classroom and got my administration to pay for additional services through the program. Children began to “tell” on their classroom teacher because they had not gotten their brain break on a regular basis! I truly knew it was getting through to the kids. I feel the students just simply enjoyed the opportunity to move more and be physically active.
I have gained a form of validation that my profession is important to the development of the whole child. Everything I had learned and believed was being utilized to help students become better academically as well as healthier.
We would not be able to keep our kids moving without the help of the YMCA Healthy U Grant which gave us a new curriculum and all the supporting equipment. They also provided us with an after school program to keep kids active and provide a healthy meal a dinner time for grades 4 and 5. This grant truly helped us reach many of the criteria required by the Let’s Move! Active schools program.
It took an entire school community to make this a great success!
For more Active Schools success stories, visit www.ssww.com/blog/tag/lets-move-active-schools
About Let’s Move! Active Schools:
Let’s Move! Active Schools is a sub-initiative of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. They announced the 2015 National Award recipients which included 525 U.S. schools, recognized for their efforts of increasing physical activity for their students and creating an Active School environment. They are truly School Champions, making a difference in the world of physical education. S&S Worldwide joined Let’s Move! Active Schools to support their goal that Active Kids Do Better.
About the Author:
Valerie Craig-Ndiaye has been a Physical Educator for 19 years. She graduated from USC-Coastal Carolina with a BS in Physical Education with a focus in Recreation. Valerie went on to earn her Masters degree in Administration and Supervision from St. Peter’s University. She is a proud member of the NJAHPERD (New Jersey Alliance for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance).
In 2012, Jersey City Public School joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation(HSP) and Let’s Move! Active Schools. Valerie was selected to represent her school as the School Wellness Leader. In her first year she was able to win the district first Bronze National Recognition for the Healthy Schools Program and Lets Move! Active Schools. She represented the State of New Jersey for the Alliance and spoke to Congress Members and House Representatives about the success she has seen at her school and district by implementing changes of healthier foods and more movement.