Nine years ago, Princeton Partners created an idea and a solution for North Shore LIJ Health System, now Northwell Health, to help address the problems of childhood obesity and inactivity. That idea was to enable kids in grades K-4 to participate in classroom-based activity breaks where they would follow the movements of peers in entertaining videos that also helped them learn curricula-based concepts.
That idea was spun off as a small start-up company called Activity Works, which has grown into a program that helps students in five major school districts get fit while learning.
On September 1, 2016, it was announced that Activity Works would be a national partner in Let’s Move! Active Schools press release. This is a new and exciting chapter in the life of Activity Works which is now in its ninth year.
Activity Works’ goal this year is to enable an additional 500 new elementary schools and 125,000 students across the country to exercise to fun, multi-sensory episodes. Teacher and principal surveys have revealed these episodes to improve attention, focus, fitness, behavior and even cognitive and academic performance.
Every Activity Works episode provides a 10-minute period of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) recommended by the CDC as the minimum for fitness efficacy over time. What’s cool is that kids don’t even realize they are learning while burning an average of 50 calories and moving 1,000 steps (a half-mile) in each session.
In its early days, Activity Works had 1 DVD with 5 episodes packaged in a box with teacher tips and simple resources for students. Grants from the New York Community Trust and the Walmart Foundation enabled the execution of more sophisticated pilots in New York and New Jersey school districts. And for five years, Johnson & Johnson sponsored Activity Works’ expansion in five major cities including Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston.
Today, Activity Works has over 30 episodes, many in Spanish, as well as dances, contests and leader boards for classrooms, schools and even cities. Over 100,000 kids will exercise to Activity Works, many at least three times per week in 2016.
In 2017, we hope to pass one million student users and to multiply that twenty fold by 2020. We want any elementary student anywhere to be able to use Activity Works. Our recent curriculum focuses on dance from a variety of cultures from around the world. We hope that Activity Works will inspire kids to feel more vibrant, productive and connected to their peers in the classroom and around the world.
September 6, 2016
Written by Tom Sullivan
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