“Your Gym…Is it an original?

 

Guest Blog -PFA Master Teacher-Steve Cox-Des Moines, IA

There are many marvelous perks one receives as a Project Fit America In Field Trainer flying around our great nation: Seeing new cities and their citizens at a very grassroots level. Listening to various dialects of American English. Oh my, s w a e – t a e, swee-tee, (sweet tea), foo-baw (foot ball), drivin’ a caw (car), chewt a gataw (shoot a gator). Local dishes: meat scrapple on toast, fried green tomatoes and oh Petrale Sole. Observing the different scenery, plants, flowers and even weeds: Kudzu, hanging Moss on Big Oaks, Fall leaf show in Penn. The wonderful History of our country: New York City, Blue Springs Battle Field Re-enactment, Navy Pier Chicago, Arlington Cemetery, Hoover Dam, Golden Gate, Little Big Horn Battle Field, Mt. Rainier, Three Rivers Stadium, Birth Place of Davy Crocket, Vegas, Delectus Winery-Napa, LSU Tiger Stadium, Elvis’s childhood home Tupelo, Princeton Stadium, The Grand Ole Opry, Beauvoir Plantation Biloxi, Roaring River MO., The Lighted Cross in El Paso, and so many more.
A big consistent I see, as I visit all these areas, is the kids. Especially elementary kids; their nature is to truly want to move, play, learn and have fun. School buildings, playgrounds and gymnasiums however can vary greatly. There are old buildings with very interesting histories. (school of ‘Remember the Titans’ movie). New buildings with every modern feature (after Katrina), all Round Dome buildings (Pattonsburg MO.) and everything in between. Then there are the gyms and multi purpose rooms. My goodness what a plethora of structures you see here! I would like to focus this blog on the gyms and more specifically what I see on the walls of the gyms. It would be good to give you a little back ground on ‘where I come from and have evolved to in this area’.

As I go into restaurants, I am drawn to beautiful chalk colored creative ‘Menu Special Dishes’ of the day more than their regular menu. When the day’s pile of new mail comes in, as I thumb through it, my eyes and heart lighten when a standard envelope with my name handwritten in manuscript appears. The colorful graffiti on old train cars draws my attention much more than the printed signs on the cars. I read and study personalized license plates and give no time or thought to regular ones. Christmas and birthday cards that were drawn/written by hand by former students and grandkids I keep and cherish.

Teacher’s lounges in schools are plastered with machine printed signs …… I look at and read only the very interesting ones posted personally, sometimes with drawings, by the teachers or principals. Handwritten signs on telephone poles about a missing dog or a lemonade stand really catch my interest.

Waking into a strange elementary school for the first time I am IMMEDIATELY drawn and focused, down whatever hallway I am in, on the displays, posts and sheets hanging on the walls. The ones that are obviously done by the hands of a teacher or students are uplifting and prime to me. I know much about a school in the first 90 seconds I’m there by noting the school cleanliness and then the personalized, warm kid centered nature of the walls. The more displays on the walls come from a machine the less educational warmth I feel.

Ok, now lets get to the gyms. A favorite song of mine, from my teenage youth, was written by a humble carpenter’s wife (she did have a Masters in English from Cal Berkeley and later a Doctorate) named Malvira Reynolds. She was a very creative, loving-of-mankind, talented composer. “Turn Around”, “What Have They Done to the Rain” were two of her bigger hits but I am referring to her song “Little Boxes.” I know, I date my old self with this story but humor me. Here are some lines from the song: ‘Little Boxes on the hillside, Little Boxes made of Ticky Tacky, Little Boxes, Little Boxes and they all look just the same! There’s a Green One and a Blue One and Red One and Yellow One and they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same’.

Well I have this wonderful opportunity to spend hours in different gyms, watching, playing and teaching with students and their teachers. I find that the look of the gym walls usually falls into one of four categories :

 

  • Standard Gym Look

A few Machine Made purchased PE oriented posters, maybe a large Milk Mustached Sport Figure poster, Class Rules ( run off out of a machine), where to go for a Fire Drill, perhaps some Rope Jump for Heart Banners, perhaps the School Field Day records. Nothing wrong with this look. It serves several purposes well. But it is what I consider a ‘Little Boxes on the Hillside’ look for a gym.

  • Clean & Lean Look

Clean refers to just that, the shiny, rather spotless, neat, open look of walls with little to nothing on them (The Lean). …. Class Rules, a few Posters , Fire Drill, a School Announcement sheet. Safe, Tidy, Clean Gym.

  • School Storage and Gymnasium Look

These poor gyms are caught in lack-of-storage-space schools, where the administrative solution has been to store other school equipment in the corners and ends of the gym. This is of course limiting for floor space, distracting, dust collecting, ugly and obviously dangerous.

 

  • My Home Gym Look

These gyms have all/most of the ‘Standard Gym’ items but in addition they have: Key Terms, Quotes, Student Made Posters, Definitions, Sayings pertinent to the teacher’s philosophy and core Phys Ed beliefs. These things are plastered all over the walls. Much is in the handwriting of the teacher or an adult and not from a machine. Murals/Paintings may be on these walls. Social interactive expectations are clearly defined. Building Blocks of Fitness are boldly visible. Word Walls are posted. The entrance above the gym door has a, relevant to the Teacher, Phys Ed statement. In short, this gym truly reflects the fire & fiber of this professional, Physical Education Teacher.

Note ….. I have been in a few ‘Storage Type Gyms’ that have also still been ‘My Home Gyms’. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for those dedicated teachers that still strive to the highest levels of educating the total child with an albatross like that hanging on their programming. We have marvelous teachers hidden in all sectors of the United States doing just fabulous Phys Ed instruction. I salute you!

Physical Education Teachers who read this blog. I want to encourage and challenge you to step back and critique the walls of your gym. Do they reflect who you are as a Phys Ed teacher? Do they reflect your values and goals? Remember, your kids can read as well as move. What are they constantly reading in YOUR gym? Grow it folks and make it close to the person you are. It is noble and good to make them fit but please realize you can do so much more.

To PFA Physical Education Teachers. I encourage and challenge you to go back into your core manual and read or re-read the ‘Hear It, Read It, Do It, See It” sheet. If you have never followed up on it, I ask you to please give it some serious thought and action. Those of you who have and acted upon it, take a deeper look. You may have evolved and/or changed a little. If there is some new passion in PE/ Fitness you want to champion, be sure your walls reflect it. We also have updated our ‘Key Terms’ sheet that you may find more enlightening. You can contact Home Office for it.

The ‘Heading’ above that gym door and the posters and such on your gym wall are a boost, testimonial and indicator of your program. Take them to new heights.

……….“Hitch your wagon to a Higher Fitness Star!”…………Your outer walls??? Let’s go into that later! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Steve Cox Gymnasium is REAL!

Guest Blog by Ken Chambless-National All Star Teacher of the Year-Welch School-Newnan, GA

I thought I was a good PE teacher prior to meeting Steve Cox. Back in 2004 he visited my school in Newnan, Georgia for a day of Project Fit America in-service training. I thought the day would solely be spent going over safety on our new outdoor equipment. But wow…. Steve came into the gym, immediately took a group of my kids into an indoor lesson called Double Track Cup Stack. I was amazed at how quickly they took to Steve…how quickly they got into the activity..and how much FUN they were having RUNNING their tails off!!! Steve had me hooked IMMEDIATELY! Throughout the day he shared many more lessons and left me wanting even more! He returned a year later to further enhance my program and it has been amazing ever since. My students LOVE PE…they LOVE the PFA lessons…they are getting strong & fit all with smiles and that is what it’s all about folks!

This summer I had the pleasure of visiting the Steve Cox family on his turf in Iowa. It was a collaborative effort by Stacey Cook and PFA trainers to surprise Steve for an early 65th birthday weekend. I will NEVER forget the look on Steve’s face as he arrived in his living room which was filled with family, PFA trainers and staff! He was in shock and for the first time since his conception he could not speak!!!
All of us were treated to a visit to the Steve Cox Gymnasium…where it all began. You could still feel Steve’s presence there. His chart and challenge posters still up on the gym walls. I think I even spotted a few extra pairs of white tube socks in the office! It was a field trip none of us protégés will ever forget.
The weekend concluded with a cookout where we all enjoyed celebrating Steve. Steve and I even had the pleasure of accepting a 2-on-2 basketball challenge from a couple of athletic teens. We of course used our TCC (Teamwork, Cooperation & Communication) skills to dominate and win 5-2. Steve got a little banged up in the process but if you know Steve…he is a tough cookie.
The evening and weekend concluded with a group dance to the “Wobble.” Picture it….Steve….banged up elbow…white tube socks…Jimmy Conner’s shorts..doing the Wobble!! It just doesn’t get any better than that. Life is GOOD!
So here’s to you Steve. A Great teacher. A Great father. A Great husband. A Great mentor to us all. And of course…a Great Friend that we all are very blessed to have in our lives. Keep up the awesome work friend. I hope to see you again real soon….with new socks. 😉

Ken Chambless/National All Star Teacher/PFA In-Field Trainer

Steve Cox Gymnasium

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Caught Digging in the Trash.

From digging in the trash to “DIY” PE equipment for his special education kids in PE to creating a National Craze of innovative high cardio, team friendly activities. The result….kids begging to work out even harder than you ever imagined they could..and loving every minute of it! This blog post will inspire and explain how Cardio Fitness Cups came to be a staple of our indoor PE program supplies we donate.

Guest Blog-Steve Cox-National Director of In-Service-Master Teacher, Project Fit America

Project Fit America National Director of In-Service/Master Teacher/Inventor of Cardio Fitness Cups-

It’s funny/strange how things sometimes just come together, seem to happen, fall in place …. chocolate meets peanut butter, as Stacey calls it! It was the early 80’s and I was teaching physical education in a small, tile floor gymnasium at Watrous Elem School (now called Morris Elementary School) in Des Moines Iowa. I was also a teaching tennis pro in the summer.

Watrous was a single floor building with a large level playground and flat parking lot with few to no steps to negotiate anywhere. I had a 45-minute duty free lunch break three of my five days. There was a pizza place within a five minute walk that had an all you can eat salad bar that included Anderson Erickson Dairy cottage cheese (the best in the world) with a large ice tea for $3.00. So do you see the connection to Cardio-Fitness Cups yet? No? Let’s add a little more to this scenario.

Watrous being a single floor school was a very conducive building for educating special needs students with physical handicaps. I always had several of these classes. I, out of necessity and enjoyment, liked to create, adapt and build some of my physical education equipment. The cups for the large ice tea were a sturdy, plastic 32 ounce colorful cup. Some days during the 45-minute lunch would fly by and I would bring the cup back to school with me. Soon, I had about 20 of these puppies, stacked in one pile in my equipment room. They were very easy to store in a small corner.

A 5th grade class was doing a bowling skills unit and a few special needs kids were integrated in with them. Setting up large plastic bowling pins was very difficult for one special needs boy (let’s call him Fred) but knocking them down was much easier and quite fun however, balancing those bowling pins in any semblance of order was just too hard for Fred. Several Yellow Brick students ( a Project Fit America term for students who are helpful leaders to other students) gladly and often worked/helped with Fred and others. The 32 ounce cups were just about the size of the pins and very colorful, some with neat, recognizable pictures on them. They were very easy to set up in a pattern close to each other or on top of each other. Are you starting to get a picture here?

"Fred"

I simply replaced plastic bowling pins for Fred and some of the others with the cups. This was a natural, time saving and fun alternative. Plus the cups, unlike plastic bowling pins, conveniently could be stacked in groups of 3, 6, and 10 on top of each other and they took up less room on the floor. Also, some students were in wheel chairs with very little ‘reach’ capability. I could set up a flat little school table by them or on the top of a 5 gallon plastic bucket and the cups (Targets) would stack on these. These cups were simply a fine, new, and cheap activity tool for my Physical Education classes.

Then I noticed an interesting occurrence/side affect, quickly sprang out of this. My other physical education kids began clamoring to set up the cups for the special education kids. They were also asking if they could use the cups for their bowling targets instead of the pins.

Other kids too!

I started drinking lots more ice tea and even lowered myself to the point of quickly swiping up left over cups on dirty tables. Ok, let’s be totally honest here…. I even started pillaging through the trash containers when I thought no one was looking. I was wrong!  A couple of my favorite waitresses saw me and said they were going to take a picture and  blackmail me. I told them that, as a teacher, I had no money or friends with money and  therefore ‘blackmail’ would not work. Ha Ha!

I then told them the truth and that the cups were becoming a big hit for various activities        in class. They began coming up with bunches of cups for me and I graciously thanked them and told them to let the corporate office know how I and the kids and I appreciate this. Soon, I had hundreds of cups. All right, do you think it ends here or are you starting to ask yourself….“ So why did he mention, early on, that he was a tennis pro in the summer?” Glad that popped into your head because here comes the tennis ball-cup factor.

As a teaching tennis pro in the summer, I always had the opportunity to accumulate hundreds of used tennis balls. At school I easily had a cache of a thousand balls. I used them for all sorts of fun activities and games. I also evolved into giving away a ‘Birthday 10 S Ball’ to any kid in the school who came to me on their Birthday week and asked for one. I would let them choose the ball and I would write ‘Happy B-Day and their Name’ with a magic marker. So simple and the kids seem to love it! Those with Birthdays in the summer also got one anytime they came in and asked. Hundreds of balls would happily go this route through the years. Although the balls could be thrown, rolled, caught, bounced, juggled, hit, kicked etc. they could not be stacked on each other in any more than a four ball pile.

NOW those CUPS on the other hand had a marvelous ability to be stacked on the floor, on a table, on a bucket bottom, on a wheel chair, on your head and on a racket. Oh, did I mention that I always kept a class set of regular tennis rackets, cut down old tennis rackets and badminton rackets? Balancing cups on a racket while walking, tip-toeing, one leg, eyes closed, crawling etc., can be very challenging and fun. Add a tennis ball or two to that scene and it really gets challenging and exciting. PLUS, ever notice how there is always an indention in the bottom of the cups? (Probably a strength/structure thing.) This indentation allows for a very delicate balance spot (for a ball) when the cup is turned upside down.

If you’re a Physical Education Teacher, you might be jumping ahead in your mind here and contemplating all kinds of other ways to experiment with movement. Let’s add ambidextrous/cross lateral/dominant hand/off hand /weighted tennis ball (Dumball) to the mix. WOW! “Ok you advanced kids, that are having no trouble with this challenge ….. Switch the racket-ball-cup to your ’Off Hand’ and try it.”

Then it would go something like this:

“MR. COX, MR. COX, I can do it even with my un-dominant hand!”
“My goodness Sally, what can’t you do? I know, try to do the same thing with a racket-cup-ball in both hands?”
“Can I try that too Mr. Cox?”
“Sure any of you who want to try it that advanced Left-Brain/Right-Brain/Cross Lateral/Ambidextrous way, go ahead. But remember to be ‘Team Friendly’ about it.”
“ Who remembers what ‘Team Friendly, means?”
“I know Mr. Cox!”
“What Sally?”
“IT MEANS to SHARE, STAY SPREAD OUT so you don’t bother others. Think About Others while you’re moving around and even be willing to HELP Others in a Friendly Way if you see they need it.”
“Holy Cow Sally, you’re not only developing great physical skills, you are also becoming a Yellow Brick Student. I am so proud of you for both!”

Of course scenarios like this were just a pleasure to watch unfold. Much of the excitement was related to the cups! They provided quick improvement and a friendly working atmosphere that “Team Friendly/Yellow Brick” spawns and the simple aspect of sharing, doing good times with friendly peers. I had hundreds of cups at this time but my mind was projecting to what I could do with a thousand or more.

more cups

So I began asking the kids, parents, teachers, lunch ladies to please bring me in all their freshly used “cups.” Yes, I did do some thorough cleaning of the cups. Soon, I had close to a thousand. Now I needed a quick, portable storage method for them. The custodian supplied me with an old trash barrel that sat on a removable wheelbase. It seemed like a good fit at first but I shortly discovered that the barrel was too deep for the shorter kids to negotiate retrieving or replacing cups from the bottom. (Think I had a couple of first graders fall in). It also could easily be knocked off its wheelbase by over zealous students and cups can definitely create over zealous students! So I went to a Lumber/Hardware store in Des Moines. I believe it was Payless Cashway (no longer here). Found a little smaller plastic trash container with permanent wheels and a nice handle. It was shorter and made it much easier for the kids to both retrieve and replace the cups.

Here are a couple of example of the first ‘Mega Multi Cups’ activities I did.
GAME: “Oodles of Cups & Balls”

Scene:
Medium size gym, flat level tile floor. No lunchroom, music, custodial equipment lurking in the corners for an accident waiting to happen. Hundreds of cups and hundreds of tennis balls readily available, a class of 28 healthy energetic 3rd graders.

Back then:
I used terms like ‘Mine Field’, ‘Poison Berries’, “Swamp’, ‘Sleepy Spiders’, ‘Snow Fort’, ‘Cup Dungeon’, ‘Tall Timber Cups’, ‘Rattlesnake Balls’, ‘Cookie Monster Cups’, “Timberrrrr”, “Yellow Scorpions”, “Cherry Bomb Seeds”
You get the picture…terms that would make a point with the kids and get them excited and ready for a challenge!

SIDE NOTE!
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s with open/safe neighborhoods, fence free back yards, polio shots at school, vacant lots, trees and creeks, Cowboys & Indians, Sunday & Vacation Bible School, un-busy streets, no seat belts, worked a Paper Route before school several years, paper bag lunches – only cold milk supplied by school, dogs not leashed, neighbors friendly, walked to school, snowball fights allowed on certain parts of the school playground (teachers participated), most neighbor parents WWII vets, my sister President of the Iowa Girl Scouts, one car families, no air conditioning, fresh milk bottles left on the front porch, unlocked doors, parent spankings, soap for cussing, duck-under-tables atomic bomb drills and even some yes maam/yes sir. So you now have a better understanding of why I was so politically un-correct and warped. Do not re-call ever having a parent complain about trauma or offense caused by any of the terms. Oh well, those were simply the times.

tall towers

GAME ‘Poison Berries/Timber Cups’

Basic procedure:
-Kids “ In a ‘Team Friendly’ manner, on ’Go!’ spread out the balls all over the gym floor without throwing them down.
-Keep them inside the lines of the basketball court.
-When I yell “Done!” quickly/carefully go to the kitchen wall of the gym and wait for the next command.”

Fitness Challenge/ Consequence
-“If you touch a ball (Poison Berries once they’re down) with your foot, ANYTIME once I say GO or Done, you must quickly go over to a side wall and do 12 Wall Pus Ups before you can return” ……. “GO!”
-Kids “ Now that the balls are set out, when I say “Boogie“, I want you to get the Cups in a “Team Friendly” manner and spread them out inside the basket ball court lines.
-Stack them in a simple group of 3 or a stack of 6. When I yell, “DONE!” quickly go to the kitchen wall.

REMEMBER:
-All of this very ‘Team Friendly.’
-Oh! And if you happen to touch a ball with your foot or drop or knock over a cup, calmly put down any remaining cups in your hand and quickly go to a side wall and do 12 ‘Wall Push-Ups’ or 25 Rope Jumps.” *Put out a half dozen ropes “BOOGIE!” … 3 minutes later…“DONE!”

-Kids “Now the “Poison Berries & Timber Cups” are all set up.
-Notice over on the sidewall I have set out 6 Medicine Balls?
-When you do a Medicine Ball, you must toss it into the wall higher than your head and catch it.
-Now here is your next challenge. I will give each one of you a tennis ball. Then, when I say “Go!”, you must head down to the other wall and then back, while softly tossing the ball up about head height and catching it.
-If you touch a ‘Poison Berry’ or knock over a ‘Timber Tower’, you must calmly put down your ball and quickly go over to the side wall and do TWO of the Fitness Challenges.
-And of course, How Must All of This Be Done? …… TEAM FRIENDLY!!!” ….“Go!”

By now you see the lesson/activity pattern of adding difficulty to the challenge and additional fitness options for the flubs.

Challenge options:
Bounce the tennis ball down & back, balance the tennis ball on a racket down & back, balance a cup & a ball on the racket, softly dribble the tennis ball soccer stile down & back, balance a tennis ball on the racket with one hand and toss a ‘juggling scarf’ with the other etc, etc!

Fitness Options:
Weighted Jump Ropes, Step Up Boxes, Arm Band Stretches, Sit Ups, Weighted Hoops etc, etc!

The accumulation of a thousand cups to go with a thousand balls, plus all the other standard PE equipment Physical Education teachers so often have, made the creative possibilities for activities seemingly endless. Take the cups out of the mix and it just was not even close to the same.

Those of you reading this, that are somewhat familiar with Project Fit America, might be asking yourself, “Where is TCC (Teamwork, Communication & Cooperation) in this? Why hasn’t he mentioned TCC yet?” Actually, TCC was born out of a combination of the cups and balls plus:

-Cut backs in Physical Education scheduling
-Larger classes
-More intricate directions
-Declining school discipline
-Lack of class leaders

I was becoming concerned about the lack of ‘Yellow Brick’ students I was seeing. Around this time, at an educational conference I was introduced to the quote:

“Remember, they don’t simply lick it off the stove!”

That quote really struck me. It motivated and encouraged me to come up with some more specific, consistent ways that my Physical Education could streamline, enable and develop more Yellow Brick Students and therefore Yellow Brick classes.

This was before I was involved with marvelous Project Fit America. Cups and I were just getting started. What a wonderful ride it has been. I’m sure it very much helped open the door to my soon-to-be affiliation with Stacey Cook and Project Fit America. I need to write a follow up blog to this one along the lines of “TCC Cups & More”. Think I’ll let my ol’ brain settle for a few weeks and go fish, hit tennis balls, play with dog and grand kids before I write up that puppy. Later!

cup on steve's head

Project Fit America side note:
Steve Cox was our first National All Star Teacher of the Year-1999. He was invited and is a current Board Member representing all that Physical Education can be. Every one of our All Star Teachers ( Gallery of All Stars ) is a model of this creativity and passion.

In 1999 Steve became an In-Field Trainer to our schools. For two years he talked Anderson Erikson Dairy into giving him 1,000’s and 1,000’s of cups to bring to every school he in-serviced. When the number of Project Fit America Schools got too many for this, we had one year of Dannon donating thousands to us. Then one day, we looked on the bottom of the cup and it had imprinted Berry plastics

We knew from the onset Dannon was not a lasting source and we called Berry Plastics to ask them if they would make special cups for us. The short answer was NO. They make millions of cups a day….we only needed a million a year! We called the Vice President and told him about Steve’s Cups lessons, sent pictures of this and the fitness fire they ignited…in jig time..he said YES!!

To this day, every Project Fit America School receives 1,000 Fitness Cups to serve an average class size of 25 students. We recently opened an online Store for any school to buy them with 100% of the proceeds going back to our charity.…the demand has been so great..but remember Steve digging in the trash? If money to this is tight..you can totally do this for free..stalk the lunch room ladies and put a call out to every kid to bring in cups…in no time..you too will have all your kids Team Friendly, Yellow Brick Students and going Cup Crazy!!! Red faced, smiling, sweating and working harder..together in ways you ever imagined!

cup crazy kids

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just what makes that little ol’ ant?

We finally met the little ol’ ant and this guy is rocking it. Once in a while a picture is worth a 1,000 words. We know  all too well the “aerobics” of politics our PE teachers teachers have to do. If turning on a dime was an Olympic Event..you would metal Gold.   Never Give Up.  The kids sitting in every class room across the nation and beyond are counting on you!  

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Fertile Fitness Soil

For 22 years I have had a chalk board/dry erase board that covers the wall I look at every day. Years ago whenever a family member or friend came to my office…I asked them to sign the bottom half. There are signatures now from loved ones who have passed away as well friends & family cheering me on. Each on left a “foot print” of well wishes for Project Fit America.

A very long time ago I cut out 2 quotes and taped them to this board….one reads: There is no overnight success…but there is success…the harder you work the luckier you get……

The other reads: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant-Robert Louis Stevenson.

Every year I wipe the top half of this board clean…and walk into a blank canvas each January. It is an odd feeling that I have never made friends with. It feels uneasy and restless and begs a walk in faith.

You see this top half of the board is where we track our donations, high accounts, grants pending, number of cold calls made, grants to launch etc…this board is lifeblood of Project Fit America…and as we fill it up…we open the door to new communities, schools, parents, sponsors and most of all kids.

It is a job we do virtually unnoticed, under the radar…this plowing the field and planting the seed stuff is not sexy. It is damn straight hard work. Yet each and every year there are particular elements that set their feet under our table and set up camp in our hearts… right as rain…passion…followed by passion’s friend inspiration and bringing up the rear…to drive this all to a place where no one can stop a really good idea….drive and determination.

This gathering is a force to recon with. It is true…the harder you work the luckier you get…and the seed planted is a powerful thing…in combination there it becomes our manifesto and the reason why we do what we do so well.

2012 bring it on! We are excited to plow the “fertile fitness soil” that will paint a child’s health fantastic and allow them to launch in the healthy adulthood every child deserves!

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Beyond the Lesson Plan

It is exactly one year ago we entered on to the stage of social networking. No Internet Technology person…just us slugging it out on platforms that are very crowded and fast paced. We started a blog, Twitter , Facebook and a YouTube Channel.

We look back over a year of social networking and ask ourselves…why are PE Teachers not naming it and claiming it? The HUGE silent majority…as the majority of kids see you every day, 5 days a week!

You are the ones who are most likely to inspire a kid to become active fit and healthy for life. You are the ones that allow a kid to “try him or herself out” and find their inner athlete. You are the ones that create activities that go beyond the lesson plan…that help kids to become better citizens to one another. You are the ones that mesh cross-curricular academics so kids can see it is so beyond PE …it is about life. You are the ones parents stop in the parking lot and grocery stores and Friday night football games to rave about their kid’s change in attitude and participation…not just in PE …but for school overall!

You know who you are. We see you and hear you loud and clear…it is way beyond the lesson plan…it is about life. No other subject taught is more powerful or endearing in its long-term outcomes. It is you…the PE teacher who has all this power for good and more. What you teach them are skills they will bring to the their work place of tomorrow.

As we head into the fall launch of 2011 in 52 cities we bring with us our voice to lend to yours. We will say this again…loud and clear…this nation will NEVER solve the obesity epidemic without supporting the PE teachers of America.

It is beyond the lesson plan…it is the “physical education” of the child that changes and empowers a child. It is a child’s true nature to run, be active and play. Let them find it, learn it, feel it and go beyond the lesson plan.

You do this PE Teachers…and we take our charge to support and empower you as our greatest social networking message. Where else is there a place for no child to be left on their behind …..as in schools?

We will tweet your stories, profile you on Facebook and send our traveling PE cam to your school to upload on our YouTube Channel……we will shout out your stats and remind all the powerful grant giving and federal agencies of a simple fact: If you want kids to get good grades, you do not cut PE… you want to get kids fit…include the PE program in the solution.

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The bus is leaving for summer break

We have rocked into the first half of 2011…to a place that allows us to work in 57 cities this fall with hundreds of thousands kids and their never, say never, fitness forward teachers, Principals and faculty!

Now …the bus is dropping off the kids for their last time and it is summer break.
In this house…we definitely take pause and catch our breath.  We spend time with our families, cook a late night b-b-q, catch the Tuesday evenings Farmer’s Market, swim, bike, jog, hike, climb, camp and basically use every opportunity to drop out. We also tend the Project Fit America company “garden” as we plot, plan, water and “grow” our fall semester.

It is a time for us to re-group, catch up, read up and get ready to tell it like it is and take schools to the next level! We are proud that on July 17, 2011 we start of 21st year of changing kids lives…and bring to the table donations to change Physical Education in schools. What we do is not like any other effort in the country. The unique way in which we empower a teacher to reach EVERY child and to allow each and  EVERY child to find their “fitness starting point” is nothing short of magic!

Imagine every kid finding their “inner athlete” finding their “fitness self”….we do that! It is a joy and truth that just keeps repeating itself. There are 1,000’s of ways to get a kid fit…almost all of them, they learn from a PE Teacher.

We take serious our charge to innovate and compete against our biggest competition….electronic entertainment. 8-1/2 hours a day is the average for kids 8 years and up. We gotta create lessons, games, and challenges they CHOSE to do over the electronic medium that is fearless and unedited …Creating fit, smart kids. It is REAL!

So the mantra for the summer for our staff? Walk, run, play, camp, hike, swim, bike, connect with family, stay up late, get up early, do all things that rejuvenate you as the need to get kids fit will never diminish and they need us fresh, rested and ready.

We support walking off deck in order to be a great player. To all our amazing in field staff, home office staff and the countless donors and schools…we can not wait to meet you on the playing field this fall….but for now…take 3 steps back and knock it back a peg.

Good job everyone! — 2 thumbs up to the 1st half of 2011–we are counting  our blessings—- It is a long list and we know that you know, that we know that  you are “on it!”

Happy Summer everyone!

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Standing on the edge of the blacktop.

The game is in full swing. Every one knows the drill, many onlookers mill around. New people enter the game constantly. The people already there jockey for their place. There are 100’s of rule books, even more arm chair referees. There are vendors who want to cash in and set up camp. The special teams line up and bring their own brand of bravado. There are research analysts with their volumes of data and stats. The media has come and creates a swarm of chaotic information. There are mayors, Governors, the White House, celebrities, talk show hosts, Olympic Athletes, colleges and universities, doctors, lawyers. You name it….they are here!

…..and standing alone on the edge of the blacktop is a PE Teacher…..who only needs to see their students every day for 60 minutes a day to seriously make the reason why they are here..go away.  In the hurry to solve the problem and look at problem and research the problem…the person who holds a real key to unlock a child’s real chance to launch into healthy adulthood is lost in the shuffle.   We get it….You can not out run a bad diet…but we never met a doctor who said “Eat right and sit around….you’ll be just fine!”  …and when it comes to kids…whose true nature is to run, be active and play…schools and their PE programs are ground zero for positive lifestyle transitions.

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1st Quarter 2011

First Quarter 2011

“Do not judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson.

This quote has been front and on center on my bulletin board for years. It is my mantra and daily reminder of what is the purpose of each day in my office. This is the time of year when we contact potential donors in hundreds of cities across America in hopes for being included as a budgeted hopeful for 2012. We never know where we will end up, or where the project will go as it is quite the process to see what cities are fitness forward and ready to truly tackle a proven solution to get kids healthy-Fund and work with schools. This has been our sole charge for what is now 21 years and it is powerful. The most wonderful part of this journey is that we always find those dedicated communities and get to donate programming to so many schools. We then get to go to those cities, meet the teachers, principals, parents and students who working along side their new found Sponsor are taking aim at the serious business of getting kids fit.

Sadly we see too many programs that lack the ability to keep a child challenged and progressing. We hear from teachers on the front line every day and feel the heart beat of their passion and desire to facilitate real change. We collaborate fiercely with those front line teachers to evolve, create and support PE that is beyond anything currently take place in this country.

Children need to be taught how to be active, the lessons need to be fun and challenging so the kids love it and respect what they accomplished. It needs to be progressive so that with individual accomplishment they get to go next level and progress to higher and higher levels of fitness. A teacher needs access to broad based fitness so that there is something for every child, every skill level and every fitness “starting point”. Becoming fit is never finished…it is a journey that starts in childhood and progresses into adulthood. We like to say around here, “Fitness doesn’t lie.” When you got, you got it…and Project Fit America kids have it.

We are on a sole mission to empower teachers and schools because we have seen first hand the 360 degree turn around of kid’s fitness and the power of the addictive nature of movement in a kids’ life. Thousands and thousands of schools get it…. A child that is “physically educated” is a better overall citizen and student.
Give these schools a chance and fund them and they will bring fitness in education and change the life a child forever. As we write this every kid in America is in a school somewhere. They spend more time at school than at home….funding and supporting quality PE in schools is the single greatest step this county can take to create a fitness revolution…. as it is…… and always will be a child’s true nature…. to run, be active and play.

In the next weeks ahead we will be announcing the 2010 All Star Teachers of the Year and you will have the opportunity to “meet” teachers who are examples of the heart and soul of what we know to be true….you CAN get kids fit!

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2010 Retrospective

As 2010 comes to a close there are many to thank and recognize. Each of you were key in making 2010 an amazing journey. It is your support that was the wind beneath my wings giving me the juice, the power, the inspiration, the drive and the determination that created all the great work accomplished this year. In doing so you take Project Fit America to the next level and launch us into a fantastic 2011! Get ready… here it comes……

On the home front…my fantastic, wonderful husband Charlie, my bff Victoria Stolinski and two amazing God kids- Sasha and Diego. My sister Carin Cook, my niece Allison White and nephews Eric and Michael Ponder.

Here at all things PFA….Our visionary Board of Directors that come together every year to dream, plot, and plan the many innovative ways to support the role of PE Teachers in America. To empower the vital and key role only they hold to reduce childhood obesity by putting fitness back into education!

Our amazing “Administrative Warriors”…Stephanie Elliott, Molly Spencer, and Kourtney Evans. Whose work to help schools roll out this program is awesome! We worked with over 1,000 schools this year and we never missed a beat because of you!! Carol Whitson the most amazing Data Manager who will sleep next to her computer and put her big ol’ dog in day care so he can run and play to so she could make deadlines. A huge shout out to our Web Master who has the patience of Job and the ability to read my mind; Shirley Williams-Art and Web Design. Guillermo Lobos of Pro Tech, who kept all our machines running night and day. Janice Lenhe…our computer Consultant who, like our Web Master, has the patience of Job and never fails to solve the tech problem.

Our In Field Trainers in 2010……Each of you work full time in schools so you know I have to start by thanking your Principals for supporting your work in field to build a fit America and “loaning you to us.” This includes Amanda Martin, Gary Martin, Kim Berg, Ken Chambless, Kathie Immerman, Leslie True, Brenda Byrd, Cheryl Gladwill, Kathy Crawford, Sharon Ryan and our Master Teacher, Steve Cox, whose Core Curriculum, lesson plans, ideas and die hard message….Hear It, Read It, See It, Do It …is a national drive to bring Physical Education to a place that has it’s feet firmly under the table of change for kid’s fitness. There is no way any kid won’t get fit when a PE teacher has those guidelines as their guide and mentor!

Our All Star Teachers…Each of you serve as a true model of what great PE can do in this country and what a great PE program looks like. You are living proof that one person can make a difference and that IT IS possible to get kids fit and launch them into healthy adulthood.…I would put each and every one of you up against any school in America and bet the farm…… You are the real deal!

To the outstanding PFA Grant Schools & PE Teachers….You are found north, east, south and west and meet with your students every hour on the hour, five days a week before school, after school, drive buses, coach, manage your own families and survive budget cuts that would make the average person run for the hills! No matter what you always find a way to run killer programming and never fail to find a way to inspire your kids!

To our Sponsors ……You made all of the above happen. It is your vision to build a generation of healthy kids starting in your own backyard. Your commitment to the schools, teachers, kids and families has impacted thousands. Your donations are the shot fired across the bow that declare war on obesity and declare the right for kids to grow up active, fit and healthy! It is you that every person mentioned in this blog is deeply grateful to, indebted to and empowered by. It all begins with you and look what you have created!

Look out 2011 we are fired up and coming your way and our message is loud, crystal clear and is the truth….

This nation will never solve the childhood obesity epidemic if PE Teachers and schools are not at the core of the solution. Aside from a child’s parents, there is no one more powerful and empowering than their teachers.

In closing I feel beyond blessed to be working with each and everyone of you. Together we make magic and change kids lives!

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