A Colorado Health Foundation-funded project led by UNC 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 classroom 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 day.

Graduate student Ann Kuhn and Mike Capps assist with gathering data for the project. The research-based collaborative, directed by UNC Professor of Sport and Exercise Science Russell Carson, Ph.D., 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 the Children's Hospital Colorado.

"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, and families," said Jaimie McMullen, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sport and Exercise Science, who helped organize a conference at UNC that brought together wellness coordinators from K-12 school districts. "We have a huge group here that's working on it, but there are also other universities and other organizations we're working with.