Making Each Year’s 2000 School Hours Count: Resources Highlights for School Leaders

by Dr. Vicki J. Worrell, Executive Director of KAHPERD

Each year kids in Kansas spend nearly a quarter of their lives at school. Physical Education classes and increased physical activity during those hours is crucial to making students as healthy and productive as possible. Because the brain shifts focus every 90 minutes, even brief breaks to be physically active positively influence academic achievement.1 There is substantial evidence that incorporating physical activity and physical education into the school day and classroom, improves concentration and can help bolster academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. It’s also helps diminish sick days and absenteeism so kids can stay on track.

The link between physical activity and academic success is one of the reasons, the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, is wholeheartedly committed to promoting healthy, active lifestyles. But we can’t do this alone. We work with numerous other organizations across Kansas to implement programs that get kids moving. The Kansas Health Foundation is one of those organizations we love working alongside; they are equally dedicated to improving the wellness and the health of all Kansans across the state.

Right now, I’m excited about their new state-wide effort – Team Up for Kansas Kids – designed to encourage collaboration between school leaders like us and families to help establish the healthiest possible Kansas school environments. The effort includes a resource-packed website that aims to connect and empower those who play an influential role in kids’ lives – parents, family members, teachers and school leaders – and share information on how to increase physical exercise in the classroom. Below is a sampling of some of the resources I’ve found most useful:

  • A ‘Grants 101’ resource guide. As you probably know, grants can be tricky to find and secure – that’s why I think this is such a helpful tool if you’re looking to fund a specific project. There’s great information on why grants matter, things to keep in mind when applying and opportunities at the national and state levels.
  • Team Up for Kansas Kids resources for school leaders. This educator-specific portion of the website offers a comprehensive list of resources, how-to guides and tips sheets to help school leaders keep kids physically active and eating healthy. Check out the compilation of links for ideas on how to bring exercise into the classroom.
  • The video case studies are above and beyond my favorite part of the new site. This triad of videos features three noteworthy schools in Kansas who have successfully implemented innovative physical education, health and wellness programs. Each school – Briarwood Elementary, Central Middle School and Liberal High School – details the wellness challenge most impacting their kids, how they implemented a solution and the results they have seen since then. The Briarwood Elementary case study, in particular, discusses the importance of physical activity and in-class brain breaks to improve concentration and performance in the classroom. These schools are living proof that it is possible to enact significant change with limited time and resources and the videos are such a motivation to get moving towards a implementing a healthier school environment.

I’ve pledged my support of this effort and plan to visit the site frequently to take full advantage of the resources available, and I hope you will do so as well. Because when parents and school leaders work together, school wellness — that environment in which every child can access good nutrition and regular physical activity — is realistic and achievable.


[1] A Guide for Developing Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.US Department of Health and Human Services; 2013.

Facts About Kansas Kids