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Not Your Old School P.E. Class


And the envelope please…

Our friends at Child Obesity 180 unveiled the winners of its Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) on Wednesday at a star-studded ceremony in Washington, presenting cash awards to nine innovative school-based physical activity programs and two technology innovators.

National awards went to Red Hawk Elementary in Erie, Colo. and the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Corona, Calif., which were awarded $100,000 each to expand their innovative physical activity programs to schools across the country. Seven other school-based programs received regional awards of $25,000, while the technology winners took home $50,000 prizes.

Competition for the ASAP awards was fierce, as 525 school-based programs submitted applications.

“We were looking for the diamonds in the rough, passionate teachers who were thinking outside the box,” said Nate Whitman, director of ASAP. “We found them, and we found a whole lot more.”

Several VIPs made appearances at Wednesday’s ceremony, including ESPN’s Bonnie Bernstein (who served as event host), Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, White House chef Sam Kass and Aneesh Chopra, the first chief technology officer of the United States.

And of course, being a physical activity focused event, those VIPs and the entire audience stood up for a five-minute exercise break at the award ceremony’s halfway point.

But the real stars were the schools. Red Hawk Elementary was recognized for its “Red Hawk Movement” initiative, which has incorporated movement and exercise into everyday school life since the school opened last fall.

ASAP honored the Corona-Norco school district for its 100 Mile Club, a nearly 20 year program launched after the 1992 Olympic games, encouraging students to run 100 miles over the course of a school year. The program has now been incorporated into more than 115 schools across eight states. (Full disclosure: the Inside Track hails from Corona, so I was not-so-secretly routing for the district to pull out the win.)

Although only two schools could take home the top prize, all are examples of unique programs that could be implemented on other campuses nationwide, organizers said. Most of the speakers challenged the award winners to continue their efforts, and invited them to work to bring physical activity to every school in America.

“We want this to be a showcase initiative,” said Peter Dolan, the chairman of Child Obesity 180. “It’s not about replicating the phys ed of yesteryear. It’s really about 2012… this needs to be a beginning of jumpstarting a national movement.”

Click here to view the full list of ASAP award winners.