In October, we asked Leaders to tell us how their local schools were implementing physical activity into their school days. Dr. Jayne Greenberg, District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, responded to tell us about the district’s innovative technology-based indoor fitness trail.
The Miami-Dade County Public School (M-DCPS) system in Florida is comprised of 217 elementary schools and many thousands of children. As the District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy, it is PreventObesity.net Leader Dr. Jayne Greenberg’s job to ensure that all these students are provided with physical activity that helps them live healthy lives.
In addition to the problems many schools face with implementing physical activity in the school day, M-DCPS has its own set of challenges: 66 percent of its population is Hispanic, a demographic that tops national childhood obesity rates.
To best serve their student population, the school district needed to think outside the box. “I came up with the idea to motivate classroom teachers to be more creative in implementing recess throughout the day. There was also a need to get students active during classroom activity breaks,” Jayne explains.
This is how the technology-based indoor fitness trail idea, an innovative recess program that uses technology to get students physically active, was born. The fitness trail is a series of QR codes snaked throughout the school’s hallways.
On days when a class is scheduled to use the fitness trail, the teacher will check out an iPad from the media center and lead their class through the trail. The QR codes also work on any mobile device that has a QR reader application installed, and are swapped out for new ones each month for variety. Scanning the QR codes links them to a Jammin’ Minute—a 90-second physical activity prompt that may include exercises like jumping, marching in place or toe touches.
The indoor fitness trail is exercise in addition to 30 minutes of daily physical education, which is taught by a certified physical education teacher.
Jayne believes that, “As education is moving into the digital age, it is important that physical education and recess become part of the transformation.” To aid their leap into the digital age, the district also manages its own television channel, called PE AcTVity, which houses all of the Jammin’ Minutes videos so that teachers can use them in their classrooms via desktop computer or Promethean boards to give kids short activity breaks during class.
M-DCPS has also seen many other victories in their work to keep their students healthy, including the Middle School Before School Physical Activity and Breakfast program. In this program, students participate in 30 minutes of physical activity before school, then eat breakfast as a group with their teacher. Already, this simple program has increased the number of students eating breakfast each day.
The district has also removed all carbonated beverages from vending machines in schools, faculty lounges and regional and district offices.
So how can schools mirror the success that the Miami-Dade school system has achieved? Jayne hopes others take a whole-school approach, and remember that, “Wellness is not only for the students but for faculty and staff as well.”
If you’re interested in connecting with Jayne, visit her Leader profile here. To access their QR codes and corresponding Jammin’ Minutes, visit the M-DCPS website.