OSU Extension toolkit has students stepping up their physical activity

BEPA toolkit

Data show that among school-age children, low physical activity, poor diet, and spending too much time being inactive are not only associated with poor health, but also with poor educational outcomes. In 2007, a new Oregon law mandated that public elementary students receive at least 150 minutes of physical education per week. Ten years later, less than 10% of Oregon public elementary schools met this goal, 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). BEPA 2.0 uses an innovative train-the-trainer delivery model, through SNAP-Educators training elementary school teachers to deliver classroom based physical activities. Teachers, both in and after-school, and other educators such as 4-H faculty, receive training to provide programming in a variety of formats.

The target audience for this low-cost, evidence-based resource is students in low-income educational environments. BEPA 2.0 curriculum aligns with Oregon’s Health and Physical Education standards and national standards and can be performed in the classroom as well as outdoors. Currently, Oregon Department of Education is sponsoring regional trainings to take the toolkit beyond SNAP-eligible schools.

The BEPA 2.0 toolkit includes a set of 57 activity cards, storage bag, bean bags, buckets, scarfs, chalk, tape and beach balls. Activity cards are designed to allow for the educator to learn, plan and deliver the activities with ease, provide the best location for implementing the activity, identify equipment needed to deliver the activity, and deliver a nutrition message that is aligned with each activity. 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.

The BEPA 2.0 Toolkit has had an extensive statewide impact during the school day as well as in out-of-school time settings. More than 1,620 teachers and staff have been trained, primarily by SNAP-Ed educators and faculty in partnership with over 100 schools, leading over 57,400 students being exposed to more physical activity programming. Further, the effectiveness of the original BEPA Toolkit was evaluated in six schools in under-resourced communities and outcomes revealed that when teachers use the BEPA Toolkit, children are more active and less likely to be obese. 

In the winter of 2021, BEPA 2.0 was selected as a first-place national winner and first-place Western Region Winner of the School Wellness Award in the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Annual Awards Program. Also in 2021, Epsilon Sigma Phi presented the Be Physically Active 2Day team with a distinguished team award for the West Region.