“I would love for my 3rd and 4th graders to wake up every day EXCITED to play, run, and be physically more active!”
Want to launch a kids fitness program? See how we started our one-of-a-kind kids health program – Fly Movement.
Imagine picking up you’re little Jenny from her elementary school and hearing her say – “Mommy, can we go ride our bikes at the park on Saturday?” Or imagine eight-year old Hector (who always wants to play games on your iPhone when you pick him up from school) says “Daddy when we get home can we go play soccer outside?” Wouldn’t it be GREAT if kids wanted to be more physically active ALL THAA TIME?
Sounds like a pipe dream, BUT… it isn’t.
As a young parent, I NEVER imagined that kids today would be sitting on the couch staring at an iPhone for hours. I didn’t realize how much of a problem child obesity had become until one day my 10-year old niece spent the weekend with us. To say she’s a bit on the heavy side is an understatement. To begin our Saturday full of fun, I made breakfast which consisted of eggs, fresh strawberries, oranges, and blue berries. And to my surprise, my niece did not want to eat any of it! Instead, she told me she didn’t eat breakfast unless it was donuts, waffles or pancakes. (I kid you not, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried). THAT, my friends, is the diet that millions of kids have become used to.
The other curve ball that day happened at the water park. On the water rides that required you to sit on a tube, my niece’s tube would often get stuck and wouldn’t move unless she had someone help push it. Yes, she was so heavy that often times her tube would get stuck and wouldn’t be able to flow down the ride. Can you imagine? THAT, my friends, is the problem with so many children who are overweight today. Over the past twenty years, we have seen a dramatic increase in childhood obesity. In Houston alone, one out of every three kids are either overweight or obese.
If everything had gone ‘normal’ that day and my niece ate the fresh fruit I put in front of her and her weight hadn’t prevented her tube from getting stuck on the water park rides, I probably wouldn’t have created kids’ health program. BUT, I couldn’t just ignore it.
Laying a Foundation
My goal for you is to understand how Fly (Fitness Lifestyles for Youths) Movement works and to follow some simple best practices so you don’t have to make the mistakes we went through when launching this program in 2014. It PAINS me to get emails from parents, teachers, or people who have a similar desire to curb childhood obesity, telling me they’d really like for us to implement Fly Movement in their schools and we are not at the point to be able to do so. But instead, we are going to show you step-by-step how our program works. So, if you want to implement Fly Movement or a similar program with your kids, you’ll be able to.
Thus [clears throat], we begin.
Pre-Program Launch 101
The end goal before we actually walk into the classroom to meet the kids for the first time is to have the teachers/school on board, the trackers setup, and volunteers trained up and ready. Like with anything in life, if you don’t prepare well, you’re likely not going to finish well. Here is the formula for having a good program kickoff:
- Coordinate with Teachers/School – Confirm with Principal & Teachers the # of students who will be participating along with the program dates/times (dates you and volunteer(s) will visit the kids). Ideally, you should arrange to meet the participating Teachers before the program launches so you can get to know them and develop a relationship with them. In our experience, the classrooms that have enjoyed Fly Movement the most are in direct relation to how much the Teacher wants and believes in Fly Movement. (4-5 weeks before launch date)
- Order Fitness Trackers – Purchase the number of fitness trackers you will need plus trackers for the Teachers, you and the volunteers, and (5) additional trackers per classroom as there will be a few kids who will either lose or accidentally break the fitness trackers during the program. Each tracker including the use of the Technology Program will run you $50 each/per student. Enter the promo code FLYSaves to receive a 10% discount. (4 weeks before launch date)
WHOOOOSH. THAT WAS THE SOUND OF THE AIR RUSHING OUT OF THE ROOM AS YOU JUST REALIZED HOW MUCT IT COSTS TO IMPLEMENT THIS PROGRAM FOR ONE CLASSROOM.
- Create Program Timeline – Send to Teachers, Principal, Fly volunteers a program timeline that contains a timeline of the program (days & times) along with what material Fly Movement will be covering that day. (3-4 weeks before launch date)
- Recruit Volunteers – For a Fly Movement program (1-2 classrooms), you should have 3 adult roles: A classroom/program leader, program volunteer, and an intern. A background check should be performed on each. It’s our policy that anyone who has a felony is not allowed to engage with kids participating in our program. (3-4 weeks before launch date)
- Prepare the fitness trackers – After receiving the fitness trackers (or recycling old ones for use), set up groups in the DHS platform that contain the first names of the kids participating in Fly Movement. Each individual tracker will be tied to a student. Once each tracker has been programmed and the DHS dashboard is all set up, sticker the username/login for each tracker on the back (we keep the username and password the same for each tracker for faster login). (2-3 weeks before launch date)
- Distribute Pre-Fitness Survey – In addition to measuring the results of our program through the hard data tracked by the kids’ fitness activity, we also send a Pre-& Post family fitness survey that helps us assess the impact of Fly Movement. A week before the program begins and thirty days after our program ends, parents receive a 2-question survey. Teachers, on behalf of Fly Movement, distribute this survey along with the parental consent form to parents. (1-2 weeks before launch date)
- Purchase Materials – In addition to the fitness trackers, on our first visit we engage the students with a fun bubble wrap popping game. So, you will need to purchase a roll of bubble wrap (contains 12 large pieces) that will allow for twelve kids to participate in the game. Also, good old fashion brown lunch bags so you can place each individual tracker in a bag that will have each student’s name on it. You can purchase these at Walmart for around $8. (1-2 weeks before launch date)
- Place Fitness Trackers in Brown Bags – Since each fitness tracker is assigned to a particular student, you will need to write the name of each student on a brown bag and place his/her tracker in it. This makes for easier distribution when you inside the classroom. NOTE, its good idea to request a final class roster from the teachers three days before actual launch date as new kids are generally added to classes and sometimes kids are placed in another. This is super important. (Speaking from experience). (3-4 days before launch date)
Are you ready to make this happen?
OF COURSE YOU ARE!
Fly Movement Program Launch – 1st Time We Visit the Kids
Have you ever worked on a team project or played a team sport and everything just starts clicking? It’s likely because you enjoy working with those people and everyone knew what the goal was. Looking back, as we’ve implemented Fly Movement in different schools, classrooms, and with a variety of volunteers from different backgrounds, having the RIGHT GROUP of volunteers who KNOW what the objective is for each visit makes implementing the program pretty easy and fun. It’s ALL about preparation and having a plan. This is where the dreaded ‘G’ word is making its first appearance: GUIDE. Mwaaaaaa…..
“Follow a guide on how to involve kids in a game and give them fitness trackers?”
Not exactly. We believe in a loose ‘guide’ of sorts. More like a routine. Why? Because, volunteers thrive on predictability. With that said, here’s how our 1st visit at the school goes..
Aim for the Goal: Get the kids to love you!
Establishing trust is the first step to any successful relationship. And since this IS NOT a ‘visit the kids just one-time’ program, you want the kids to LIKE YOU so they want to see you again. So how do you get your kids to like you? First, play a fun game like the bubble wrapping popping contest. And after, inform the kids that they’re getting something really cool – a fitness tracker!
As you walk into the room with HIGH ENERGY, remember to put on a BIG SMILE. Your kids need to believe that you want to be there. You must appear that you are excited to see them. This should be natural to you. If it isn’t, then I’m sorry, this is not the role for you.
Ok, you’re in the classroom, dozens of little eye balls are staring back at you. What now? Simple – play a game. Your kids love playing games and this is the easiest way to engage with them, build trust, and have fun with them. Don’t bother talking about Fly Movement, fitness trackers, or anything else. Go immediately into playing the bubble wrap game or charades game (see how the games are played at FlyMovement.org/videos). Game ~ 5-7 minutes.
After the game. Ok, now that you and the kids have had some fun and they are beginning to like you, here are some talking points:
- Introduce yourself and the team – keep it simple. You can share one of your favorite hobbies i.e. “I like playing soccer and cheering for the Rockets.” (1-2 minutes).
- Ask – “what are some of your favorite ways to move?” Call on 3-4 students, but don’t spend more than 1-2 minutes on this section. (1-2 minutes).
- Ask – “Does anyone know what a fitness tracker does?” (while showing your tracker). Repeat the good answers. Explain what the trackers do. (1-2 minutes).
- Inform the kids they will have an opportunity to wear a fitness tracker. Let them know that they can wear the trackers at school, at home, and wear them every day. (1 minute)
- Distribute the trackers – FIRST give the teacher his/her tracker. Then call each kid individually, smile, help them put the tracker on. (3-5 minutes)
- Picture time – after all the kids have their trackers, the intern should take good photos & video for our newsletter and social channels. (3-5 minutes)
- After all the kids receive their trackers, ask them what they can do to generate moves. Provide suggestions. (1-2 minutes)
Remember, this visit all you want to do is let the kids have fun and get them to LIKE YOU and TRUST YOU. Don’t do any more or less than the routine mentioned above. Every Teacher is different, every classroom is different, but if you stick to this routine, you should definitely see that these kids are having a good time.
As you are about to walk out, tell the kids you will be back in 2 weeks to let them know how they’re doing. And BEFORE YOU LEAVE, ask them, or rather, challenge them to generate more moves than their teacher! It may go like this – “Ok kids, we’re going to leave now, but we’re going to come back in 2 weeks. In the meantime, who here thinks they can generate more moves than their teachers? Yea, ok then! I challenge you to move more than your teacher!”
If the kids are hollering, jumping, and excited as you walk out the door, then you had a great awesome Fly Movement program launch!