Between 7:00 am – 8:00 am kids at over 70 schools across the U.S. ready their bodies and minds for learning. In some households, it acts as an alarm clock as kids don’t want to miss a session. In others, kids are bringing home information about how to make healthy food choices or requesting more active outings on the weekends. Why is this happening? The answer lies in a new initiative of the Reebok Foundation called BOKS.
Preparing elementary school children for a day of learning
BOKS, which stands for Build Our Kids’ Success, is a before school physical activity program designed for elementary school children to jump start their brains to better equip them for a day of learning. Inspired by the book “Spark” by Dr. John Ratey of Harvard Medical School, and brought to fruition by three moms in Massachusetts, BOKS uses a functional fitness curriculum, which mimics day-to-day movements and play to get kids up and moving in the morning thereby boosting both physical and mental health as well as confidence and well-being. Running two to three mornings a week beginning an hour before school, BOKS classes start with a fun warm-up game, transition into running, relay races or obstacle courses, and include a “Skill of the Week”. Classes provide plenty of opportunity for play as the program is filled with team-oriented games.
To enhance the program’s focus on overall health, classes include kid-friendly nutritional talks about making smart food choices. So kids are learning about healthy habits in a fun way that is weaving its way into their homes and everyday lives.
The secret of BOKS
The BOKS program has seen explosive growth since its start in a single school in the fall of 2009. Its success partly lies in the flexibility of its curriculum and its implementation models. Everyone from parents, PE teachers, and other school staff are running the programs at the various schools. While the BOKS curriculum is provided free of charge, schools have implemented BOKS using a variety of different models. Some schools use volunteers to run the program, while others look to grants, local sponsors, or principal budgets to be able to supply a stipend to the trainers.
A volunteer opportunity for Reebok employees
BOKS has also become a volunteer opportunity for Reebok employees. Throughout the 12-week BOKS session, approximately 25 Reebok employees will join the trainers and kids in helping with a BOKS class. Being able to give employees the opportunity to volunteer for their company’s initiative is a great benefit. As a testament to this benefit, Reebok employee Evan Locke said,
“The motto the kids scream out with energy, ‘BOKS Rocks!’, after they’ve been through a session is a clear testimony they had fun. Since participating as an employee volunteer for a couple of sessions and with a couple of different schools I’ve seen first-hand the enthusiasm and it’s infectious. I’m onto my third session this week and reaching out to at least another school to lend my support. I can guarantee going to one class with a group of BOKS kids will leave an impression on you to come back again. This is a phenomenal opportunity for Reebok employees as volunteering with BOKS embraces our mission regarding fitness in a way that gives back to the community.”
2012 is proving to be an exciting time for the BOKS team. In addition to being in over 70 schools across the U.S. right now, BOKS has a number of exciting initiatives and happenings planned for this year:
- Planning to be in 300 schools by the end of 2012
- Launching a new website. The new website not only offers information about the BOKS program, but trainers at schools approved to run BOKS will gain access to the trainer hub. The trainer hub will provide trainers with the tools and resources to help run a successful BOKS program. With this site, the BOKS team is very excited about being able to provide a home base to trainers where they will not only have access to all the curriculum and training videos, but they will be able to exchange ideas with other trainers. We want the trainers to feel like they belong to the BOKS family.
- The creation and pilot of “BOKS Bursts”. “BOKS Bursts” are 2-4 minute physical activity breaks that can be used by teachers in the classroom. The Bursts complement the BOKS curriculum and really gets the whole school involved with BOKS.
- A greater international presence. In the fall of 2009, two members of the BOKS team traveled to Japan to work with Reebok Japan and a national retailer to help demo BOKS. Now, BOKS is running in Fukushima, Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. We hope to see more international expansion as we continue to grow BOKS.
The impact of BOKS can best be summarized by people who are seeing firsthand what it can do for their kids and their school. People like the principal at the Nathan Hale Elementary School in Roxbury, Massachusetts who said,
“BOKS is amazing! The before school program offers highly effective tools that teach the importance of physical activity, emotional, academic and social skills all rolled into a blanket of FUN!! Every morning 25 students swallow a HEALTH pill that’s so-o-o-o much FUN they forget how much they are learning. BOKS is a tickle in your heart and a smile on your face. We love BOKS better than ice cream!”
That’s the power of BOKS.