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WE Innovate: Active Students

It is 8:45 on a Tuesday morning. Laughter and drums can be heard coming out of Ms. Baldwin's 3rd grade classroom. Students wave their arms and wiggle to the beat. This isn't a music or physical education class. This is what they do every morning, in every classroom, at Sexton Mountain Elementary School.

Sexton Mountain is one of the four schools taking part in the Active Students Pilot Program. West TV and Bonny Slope elementary schools, as well as Highland Park Middle School are also participating. "We want to create a culture of movement. We start the day with it, make it part of our routine," says Physical Education Teacher on Special Assignment Cheryl Wardell. She is heading up the move to make a change in Beaverton Schools.

The pilot program is a result of the work of the Active Students Task Force. House Bill 3141 directs schools to increase physical activity by 2017: 150 minutes a week for elementary school students, and 225 minutes a week for middle school students. Facilities and weather challenges meant the Task Force had to get creative. They came up with integrating "brain boosts" throughout the day, and starting the day with 10 minutes of movement. 

The District brought in experts to teach staff members how to get kids moving in a fun way, as well as techniques to calm the body back down for academics. Wardell has created a webpage filled with age-appropriate resources for teachers. Pilot schools have a running club, as well as recess before lunch. "Research shows that kids move a lot more if they move before they eat, and they also eat better," says Wardell.

This year, the Task Force is evaluating the program, making a plan for next year and discussing how to expand to more schools. Wardell says the Beaverton School District is the first in Oregon moving towards complying with the new law. "We're hoping that it will be a model for other school districts in Oregon."