Allen Brook School wins national award

Lets-Move-BannerBy Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Allen Brook School students’ active lives have helped the school win a national award.

The school recently received a Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. Allen Brook was one of 525 schools across the country to earn the distinction, and the only school in Vermont to do so.

Allen Brook earned the award through its commitment to integrate at least 60 minutes of physical activity before, during and after each school day.

“The Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award is the nation’s top physical activity and physical education distinction for K-12 schools,” said Charlene Burgeson, Let’s Move! Active Schools executive director, in a press release. “We commend Allen Brook School’s exemplary work around and commitment to active learning environments. Allen Brook School’s faculty, staff and students are paving the way to a healthier, higher-performing and more successful generation of youth.”

Lyn Porter, a physical education teacher at Allen Brook School, led the efforts at the school. She said activity is important for countless reasons.

“Physical activity is so good for health and wellness, but beyond that, social interaction, learning to deal with competitive situations in a healthy way, learning how to interact with others and moving our bodies,” she said. “We know through research now…when you engage in physical activity prior to learning, the brain is lit up more and more open to learning. You actually learn better.”

To earn the award, schools have to meet benchmarks in five areas— physical education, physical activity before and after school, physical activity during school, staff involvement and family and community engagement.

Allen Brook makes sure kids have recess time every day, plus movement breaks in the classroom. It also has a movement program before school two days a week. After school, the Imagine program provides physical activity options. The school also publishes a Family Fun Fitness Calendar each month in the school newsletter, which provides wellness and activity ideas for kids and parents to try outside of school.

The school also has a walking program, where students earn “toe tokens” for miles they walk. In addition, the school is trying to collectively walk the equivalent of the distance from Williston to Grand Canyon National Park. Students—as well as their family members—record how much they walk, and all miles get added to a school-wide tally.

This is the second year Allen Brook has won the award. Porter said activity has always been important at the school, but the Let’s Move! Initiative has helped them expand activity.

“We’ve really ramped up what it means to move and why its important to move,” she said.