Dallas Elementary BOKS Champions, Again

Posted On Monday June 07, 2021

Dallas Elementary School has won national recognition as a Building Our Kids’ Success (BOKS) program leader for the second year in a row.

When BOKS asked teachers, administrators, parents and volunteers to recognize Defenders of Physical Activity that went above and beyond to provide extra movement options during the school day, they were overwhelmed by the response, receiving nominations from nine provinces and two territories.

Clay Cartie, a grade 6/7 teacher at Dallas Elementary, won top marks across the country on behalf of his school.

“This year, Clay inspired many groups of Junior Leaders to get their peers and families active at school and at home, and kept kids engaged, excited and eager for more movement," said a BOKS news release. "He empowered his group of Leaders to bring BOKS to other classrooms by teaching virtually, supporting Junior Leadership Trainings in the district, and helping to build the confidence and competence of other Junior Leader groups through mentorship."

“It started out with one or two teachers in a school and then lead to half the school, schedules being made for inside, outside, hallways and now into cohorts with the health protocols for this school year,” said Sherry Stade, SD73 Health Promoting Schools Coordinator.  “This truly is a testament to the collaborative approach that teachers have taken to support health learning.”  

“Now, eight teachers take their classes to the gym or outside for BOKS each day,” said Roy Styles, vice-principal, Dallas Elementary. “In 30 minutes, the students have participated in two to three activities, each lasting about 10 minutes. Doing this four days a week with one day devoted to a circuit.”

“What I think is incredible is how the idea of brain health through moderate to vigorous exercise is and has been the engagement piece that has made this type of start to a day sustainable in schools,” said Stade. “Teachers started out with three times per week and really noticed the difference in mood and academic engagement on the days when students were not exercising so they decided to go five days per week in most cases. Teachers are excited to continue with this programming because they can physically see that their students are getting stronger, happier, and ready to learn.”  

For Cartie, being named as a top Defender of Physical Activity of 2021 is less about him and more about the school.

“It really should be defined as a win by Dallas Elementary,” he said. “And it is important to note that the Kamloops-Thompson School District may have one of the highest BOKS participation rates in Canada, which is leadership being shown not only by our school but also by the district.”

“I do not know the exact number of schools participating in BOKS morning fitness and classroom Bursts, but I do know according to the stats from BOKS staff that we have the most participating schools in a district,” Stade said. “I would say over half our elementary schools.” 

BOKS is a free physical activity program designed to get kids active and establish a lifelong commitment to health and fitness. It is based on the correlation between exercise, academic performance and behaviour issues.

“A sedentary life and poor eating habits can lower kids’ performance in the classroom and start a cycle of health problems later in life,” says the BOKS website. “Studies show that kids who exercise see significant boosts in intelligence-test scores and core subjects at school, compared to their inactive peers.”

The mission is to make physical activity and play part of every childs’ day, and the vision is to create a healthier and happier generation of active kids.

Cartie’s passion for the program is in seeing its impacts.

“There is such a difference in the kids in terms of the way they answer questions and are engaged in the classroom,” he said. “Put it this way: when we are unable to do this program, for example in the winter when it is cold outside and the gym is being used for the winter concert, the kids are definitely not as engaged.”

Cartie says the program provides ways to gamify exercise to make it fun and seem less ‘fitness-oriented’.

“It’s sustainable because it is giving all students opportunities to participate, not just athletes. So that half-hour in the day means kids are more focused and able to learn for the next four hours. It helps learning in the long run.”

“The hope is that students will learn what types of movement they really enjoy and understand exercise is a healthy coping mechanism to support their mental health, and perhaps will evolve into students practicing self-directed healthy lifestyles,” said Stade. 


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