WA: Highline Schools CDC Grant Award to Innovate Physical Education

King County Public HealthPhysical education (PE) teachers from across Highline School District are getting special training today, August 21, on an innovative PE curriculum that will launch on the first day of school, September 3. The goal is to build students’ lifelong fitness and health.

The training is part of a comprehensive approach to improving access to physical activity for all Highline students – based on a recognition that physical activity is essential to helping students achieve academically.

Highline’s new policy places greater emphasis on getting students to be more active throughout the school day; makes PE more accessible for all students; and provides on-line access to fitness progress for students, parents and teachers.

Only one in four students in Highline are getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity they need to be healthy. Yet, schools can make a difference in the health of their students, as shown by a recent drop in obesity rates in several low-income King County school districts that participated in an obesity prevention initiative.

“The changes taking place in Highline are a great example of schools and Public Health coming together to improve the health of our young people,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “A growing body of research shows that physical activity can improve student learning and boost academic achievement as well as improve health.”

Improvements in physical activity to expect this fall

  • More active time for all students during PE class and throughout the day
  • Activities that focus on motor skills they can apply to a variety of activities
  • Knowledge and skills to make healthier food and fitness choices
  • Additional focus on teamwork, sportsmanship, and responsible behavior
  • New activities that meet student interests such as yoga or backpacking

“Now more than ever, we must all do our part to help children establish healthy habits early on. I’m thrilled to see our District launch this innovative approach to physical activity that will equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for lifelong health and fitness,” said Nichole Calkins, P.E. & Health Instructional Specialist for Highline Schools.

The changes were supported, in part, by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Transformation Grant within the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The initiative is a collaborative effort between Seattle Children’s, Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the Healthy King County Coalition (HKCC).