Recently, District Administration and other news outlets like it, reported the Obama administration’s request for $1 billion in funding for American Indian education, including millions for schools needing new construction or significant repair.
Native American children are considered “at risk” students, not only for lower high school graduation rates, but also for the occurrence of Type II diabetes and obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions as compared to Non-native populations.
Recognizing that Ergotron’s product base gives educators the ability to activate classrooms where children spend much of their sedentary time, we joined forces with the Mayo Clinic at one Minnesota school, Nay Ah Shing Elementary, on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Reservation. The Mayo Clinic was investigating the impact of incorporating more movement (Prevention, 2010) in the classroom on student health, behavior and performance and Ergotron was able to provide sit-stand workstations as intervention.
Physical activity in US schools averages less than 45 minutes per day although the government recommendation is 60 minutes. In the effort to improve academic achievement many schools have sacrificed physical education classes and recess. At the same time, statistics predict that obese adolescents stand a significant chance of becoming obese adults. The health risks associated with a growing population of overweight and obese citizens include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and early death¹.
Building on observations made during the pilot project at Nay Ah Shing, researchers are now studying students using Ergotron LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desks at Belle Terre Elementary in Palm Coast, Florida and Fountain Hills Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona. The theory is that once kids get moving, standing, and walking around in the classroom during their learning time not only will it impact their health and risk for disease in the future but also it will increase their learning, processing and academic test scores. As at Nay Ah Shing, Belle Terre and Fountain Hills, students are tracking student activity and educators have been instructed how to teach in an active mode.
The US government encourages manufacturers like Ergotron to collaborate with scientists and research institutions on projects like Nay Ah Shing with the goal of improving the course of the lives of children. Students that may have otherwise left school will have more incentive to stay the course and, ultimately, become high performing adults. In addition, any funding that helps with the adoption of more active learning environments can tackle the issue of overweight students and play a part in preventing the onset of related (and extremely costly) diseases².
We will be blogging more about this important topic in the months ahead.
1. Jeffrey Levi, Chrissie Juliano, & Laura M. Segal, 2006 2. G. F. Dunton1, 2009