The statistics are clear: Kids who don’t get enough physical activity are at increased risk of obesity. A 2007 Oregon law was meant to help. The law mandated 150 minutes of physical activity a week for kids in public schools.
But 10 years later, a report found that fewer than 10 percent of schools were meeting the goals the Legislature set, mainly because funding shortages kept them from hiring physical education teachers. In 2017, the Legislature amended the law to specify that in schools without physical education teachers, classroom teachers could lead the exercises.
What was needed was a curriculum to help teachers rise to the challenge. Oregon State University Extension responded with the Be Physically Active 2Day Toolkit, known as BEPA 2.0, developed in partnership with the Oregon Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education Program (SNAP–Ed). Equipped with a set of 50 activity cards and simple sporting goods such as beach balls, beanbags, cones and scarves, trained teachers lead kids in activities reviewed by experts in the field.
The toolkit is geared toward elementary-school age children who are just beginning to learn about the importance of nutrition and exercise. Activities include “Activate the Alphabet,” “Bean Bag Balance,” “Dicey Moves” and “Fruit and Veggie Volleyball.” The games range from 5 to 20 minutes, with most being 15 minutes.
In a pilot study, OSU found that children in rural Oregon elementary school classrooms in which the toolkit was used were getting more physical activity, as measured by pedometers that the students wore as part of the study. Teachers who received the training were more likely to implement short activity breaks, and their students were more likely to be active.
BEPA Toolkits and trainings have reached more than 370 classrooms since 2016, bringing a dose of heart-pumping preventive health measures to more than 20,000 Oregon children.