May 16, 2017 — A Colorado Health Foundation-funded project being led by the University
of Northern Colorado aims to get K-12 students healthier and more active in their
classrooms throughout the school day.
School of Sport and Exercise Science graduate students recently visited one of the
20 participating schools that UNC has been advising as part of the project. The students
observed classrooms at Tozer Elementary School in Windsor to record the physical activity
of the children (who wore activity trackers to monitor their exercise levels) and
to note how often teachers implement physical activity into lessons during the school
Ann Kuhn and Mike Capps, graduate students assisting with gathering data for the project,
said they enjoyed the opportunity to work on the project that's beginning to gain
The research-based collaborative, directed by UNC Associate Professor Russell Carson,
aims to put research into practice to inform development of programming. Schools are
mandated by the state to incorporate health and wellness programs but sometimes struggle
to implement them.
"The project provides a unique blend of research and teaching for faculty and graduate
students," Carson said. "At the same time, it provides a service for K-12 schools
who need assistance implementing health and wellness programs."
Project partners include neighboring northern Colorado school districts, Wellness
Training Specialists, the Red Hawk Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research
Center at the University of Colorado-Denver, Colorado State University, the University
of Denver, and Children's Hospital Colorado.
Carson, who prepares students for the observation, said the statewide research collaboration
was jump-started after a fall 2015 presentation as part of UNC's Schulze Interdisciplinary Speaker Series that addressed the importance of health and wellness in schools.
"I think the biggest thing is the chance to be a part of a collaborative group that
has a real chance for impact on teachers, schools, parents, families," said Jaimie
McMullen, assistant professor of Sports and Exercise Science, who helped organize
a conference at UNC in March that brought together wellness coordinators from K-12
school districts. "We have a huge group here that's working on it, but there also
other universities and other organizations we're also working with."
About the Project
The project contributes to the "Advancing Innovation and Dissemination of Evidence-Based
Action in Schools (IDEAS) for Health" initiative. It was inspired by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's "Whole Community, Whole School, Whole Child" model,
a 10-component approach that emphasizes partnering with the community and parents
on everything from the physical environment in schools to students' mental health
to schools' social-emotional climate.
UNC's contribution to IDEAS is funded by a two-year, $700,814 grant from the Colorado
- Monique Becker (CSU's Jeff Dodge contributed to this story)