One by one, elementary schools watch as teachers and programs fall victim to budget constraints. Music, art, summer school, and even physical education can not make the cut in some areas. In the Azusa Unified School District (AUSD), only two certified physical education teachers serve all 11 elementary schools, limiting the instructors’ time with the children to 45 minutes per week, much lower than the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Bridging that unacceptable gap in the curriculum, APU and Reebok teamed up with AUSD and the Canyon City Foundation, which supplied a generous start-up grant, to bring physical education back through the Build Our Kids’ Success (BOKS) program.
Launched in January 2012 by Reebok International, this fall marks the first full year of partnership that enables enthusiastic third–fifth graders at Gladstone Street Elementary to participate in the before-school program every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m. Sessions begin with warm-up stretches, followed by a running-related activity, and the skill of the week. “The minute the kids get to school, we start them off with exercise,” said Diana Rudulph, APU Department of Exercise and Sport Science assistant professor, who coordinates Azusa’s BOKS program taught by APU physical education students. “They leave energized, are more alert for class, behave better, and have greater academic performance.”
That energy got an extra kick on April 26, when Reebok surprised each of the 40 Gladstone participants with a new pair of Reebok shoes and a T-shirt during their morning exercise class. “The kids already love the program, and Reebok’s generous gift that day certainly added to their excitement,” said Stacey Kim, Community-Based Federal Work Study program coordinator, who helped initiate, organize, and run the program.
BOKS’ success and popularity prompted Ginny Dadaian, APU director of community relations, to pursue funding in hopes of offering the program to Powell Elementary School in spring 2013. “The science-driven exercise curriculum that emerged in response to rising obesity rates in children and a lack of physical education encourages the fitness and health of children in our community,” Dadaian said. “We look forward to continuing and expanding this fun, action-packed exercise program for years to come.”