What is working for BOKS Schools Across the Country
We hear from our trainers on a regular basis and in many instances are lucky enough to visit your schools and see your sessions in action. What we have seen and experienced across the country blows us away each and every time. THANK YOU for all you are doing to make BOKS such a success from coast to coast. This article will explore some lessons learned and best practises that you can implement to make your BOKS program as impactful as it can be in your school community.
Having reached over 1000 BOKS schools in less than five years, we want to celebrate some of the success stories and lessons learned, showcasing how BOKS can be implemented in different environments within a broad range of school communities with diverse needs.
Here are just two examples of impactful BOKS programs across Canada.
Western Canada (British Columbia)
In School District 73 in Kamloops, BC, we have one of our longest running BOKS programs, thanks in large part to District Health Promoting Schools Coordinator, Sherry Stade, who introduced BOKS to schools in her district after attending a BOKS workshop at PHE Canada in 2015.
“SD73 is using the BOKS curriculum as a district strategy to improve brain health and provide a gateway to lifetime fitness for both students and teachers. The BOKS curriculum has significantly built confidence in our generalist teachers to deliver a quality program for their students.” Sherry Stade
Sherry immediately realized the benefits to her school district of implementing a district wide physical activity initiative that would get their students moving more often, in ways that impacted their minds, bodies and, at the end of the day, their academic success. Sherry has been instrumental in getting BOKS running and sustaining the program throughout the past three years. Through her efforts, BOKS volunteers have been able to deliver local training sessions and participate in Health Symposiums for Grade 6 students. The BOKS program is multi faceted within the school district with schools offering the program before school, during the first 30 minutes of class, within PE classes and integrated into after school programming.
Certain schools in the district also participated this past fall in our research study run by Propel (University of Waterloo). This gave their students the opportunity to wear pedometers, track their activity levels before participating in BOKS and during the BOKS program. The survey results will be analyzed and provided to the district which will help support their efforts related to getting their students more active through BOKS.
So, what has made BOKS so impactful in School District 73?
Having a key liaison between BOKS and the school district has been amazing. Sherry has worked hard to get the schools on board in this area and to support them through delivery of materials, training and any necessary support they have needed.
“What I love about the BOKS program is how user friendly the curriculum is – how easily it is laid out for our teachers to follow. We have PE specialists and generalists both using it and finding it equally easy to implement. We have programs with over 100 students and some with 10. The program is effective and impactful. Everyone across Canada should be using it to get their students more active.” Sherry Stade
Thanks Sherry for the work you have done in SD73 to get your students moving with BOKS!
Eastern Canada (Newfoundland)
Allan Power, a physical education teacher at All Hallows Elementary in North River, NL first heard of the BOKS program in 2017 when he attended the PHE National Conference in St. John’s. He attended the BOKS session at the conference and immediately thought this was something he would like to try at his school. The conference was in late May, so he waited until the 2017/18 school year to implement the program. From the very first mention of the program, his Principal was on board and did everything in his power to help him get BOKS started. The Principal printed off pamphlets for staff and posters for kids to make them aware of the program. He also had the school road sign in the community advertising the program. Having support from your Principal is so key in having a successful and impactful BOKS program. As BOKS staff, we are here to assist you in gaining that support and helping to communicate what this program is all about, to your leadership team. Let us know if we can help you in this regard.
“I explained the program to our staff in a meeting and had 8 teachers come forward to help which was great! We had a great response from our parents and many offered to help as well. We started the program in January 2018 and offered it to our students for 16 weeks (8 weeks for Primary, 8 weeks for Elementary). We offered the program in the mornings from 8:00-8:30 and had 30 kids signed up in Primary and 60 kids signed up in Elementary. This is about 1/3 of our school which I thought was amazing! As for the program, I have nothing but good things to say about it. My plan is to continue the program but also to extend it by starting in the fall so we can get the kids moving earlier and more often!” Allan Power.
The aspects of the program that appealed to Allan were:
- The lessons are simple and can easily be adaptable.
- The lessons don’t require a lot of set up time or equipment.
- It is FREE! Every school from K-9 should be doing this program!
- All equipment was provided to the school along with a Curriculum Guide which had more than enough lessons, ideas and activities to do with the kids (NOTE: schools can currently apply for equipment bins to support their BOKS program).
- The Trainer Hub is excellent. It included access to all documents, activities and videos which did a good job of explaining all movements and exercises.
- The lessons also touched on nutrition at the end of each session which was a nice touch, especially for younger kids in terms of teaching them healthy eating habits.
- Having a BOKS Kid of the week was a neat idea. When some of the kids got their award, it was like Christmas morning for them! They were ecstatic! I had one parent tell me that their son slept with his certificate for weeks because he was so proud.
- The program is flexible. It can be offered before, during or after school. It can run anywhere from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. It can also be done outside. If there are not enough teachers to help, you can ask parents to be trainers. This should appeal to different schools in terms of scheduling and community involvement.
“As for some of my own experiences, I can tell you we had lots of excited children on those mornings of the program. They would race into the school, change their shoes as quickly as possible and get to the gym to get moving! If some students had gym class and BOKS Kids on the same day they were racing to tell me, ‘I have two gyms today! One in BOKS Kids and one with you! The teachers involved in helping also enjoyed the program. They looked forward to those mornings and so did I. I think they liked interacting with the kids in a different setting and getting some exercise! It seemed on BOKS Kids days, I would feel better, more alert, and more focused so I personally noticed a difference. When the program ended we had a lot of sad faces and a lot of kids saying, ‘I wish we still had BOKS Kids today Mr. Power’. To this day, when we are in gym class and doing a certain activity or exercise I always have a student say, ‘oh yeah, I remember doing this in BOKS Kids’ or ‘ I know how to do this, we did it in BOKS Kids”’ When I hear those comments then I know the program was successful.
To sum it up, this was a program that a had positive impact on our students, staff and school community. It is a program that promotes exercise, nutrition and healthy choices. It was a great way to start your day off and when each session was over, everyone left the gym feeling better than when they came in. I would recommend this program to everyone to try in their schools.” Allan Power
Allan summarizes perfectly the broad impact of BOKS on the school community from the students involved to parents and staff. His program was impactful from start to finish with the engagement and support of his Principal, to the broad involvement of the staff in his school community. This is a great approach to introducing BOKS to your school. Awesome job Allan – thanks for being a Champion in your community!
We would love to hear from other trainers across the country. Let us know what works for you and how you have implemented the BOKS program to ensure the greatest impact in your school or school district. Our trainers across the country will benefit from learning what you have experienced along the way – your on the ground, tried and true successes (and perhaps non-successes).
Wishing you all the best with your current BOKS sessions!
BOKS Manager, Programs & Training