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Teacher: Kymm Ballard who teaches at NC Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh, NC. Kymm Ballard can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: The Movin' Van

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To provide physical activity to youth that may not have transporation to and from afterschool programs.

Suggested Grade Level: 6-8

Materials Needed: Variety of equipment

The Movin' Van

North Carolina is known for smiling faces, southern phrases, and good ole’ southern food. But did you know that North Carolina is also known for other reasons throughout the United States? Things such as:

  • North Carolina ranks 38th among states in adult participation in physical;
  • 84% of older adults in North Carolina are not sufficiently active to reduce their risk of obesity related disease;
  • North Carolina children exhibiting risk factors for heart disease in as early as third grade;
  • 43% of adolescents watch more than 2 hours of television a night;
  • 13% of children ages 6-11 years and 14% of adolescent’s ages 12-10 years were overweight in 1999. (This figure has nearly tripled in the past two decades.)

What do these startling statistics mean for North Carolina? More disease and death at earlier stages in life and skyrocketing healthcare spending estimated at $6.2 billion annually in health care cost for physical inactivity related causes and sedentary lifestyle!

A grant has been made available from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the NC Department of Public Instruction as part of a larger campaign on promoting positive physical activity, called the “CDC Youth Media Campaign”. Some activities from the national grant include commercials that will run on Nickelodeon, MTV, and Cartoon Network with supplementary efforts on radio and AOL.

Graham Recreation and Parks serve an estimated 400 children in afterschool programs and summer camps. However, some of these children cannot come to afterschool or summer camps due to transportation problems. Many live in the housing authority area and have no safe place to play neither outside nor a park close enough to walk safely. In many cases, there are no sidewalks for kids to go anywhere!

The NC Department of Public Instruction and the Graham Recreation & Parks has partnered with Be Active North Carolina, to tackle some of the physical activity issues in the City of Graham. Together, they created the Movin’ Van. The Movin’ Van is a cargo van filled with various balls, games, and equipment needed to go out and get kids moving towards physical activity and fitness in their neighborhoods. The Movin’ Van operated Monday through Friday between the hours of 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM, hours that have been identified as a time when children venture into risky health behaviors. The grant was specific to target youth between the ages of 9 to 13 or better known as “tweens”. However, on occasion, all ages come to participate from barely walking to parents.

North Carolina physical education is aligned with the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) standards. One of these standards in the curriculum is for students to get activity outside of the school day. The Movin’ Van staff bring new ideas about physical activity and health to children who’s physical education classes are being cut or completely eliminated throughout the country.

The kids are exposed to games such as badminton, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis. They learn rules, skills, and teamwork during these sessions with the Movin’ Van. Many of these children had never met other children in the next building because they were never outside playing. Parents have commented about noticed improvement in their child’s activity level and also overall improvement at school.

Data is being collected by equipment donated by Polar/HealthFirst, USA to help justify the need to provide this type of activity to these neighborhoods. These same kids are also using Polar heart rate monitors and are learning what a target heart rate zones mean, how to elevate and reduce their heart rate, and how to check their pulse. With some of these youth, they were in their heart rate zones without being very active, while others had to work to get into their heart rate zones.

North Carolina needs to be more active. Programs like the “Movin’ Van” can provide substantial amounts of health-enhancing physical activity and opportunities to practice skills taught in physical education courses. As recreation professionals, we should look out of the box or our fields and centers, to provide services for our neighborhoods and communities that may not have access to our customary services.

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Posted on PEC: 8/20/2002 and has received 344 votes.

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