The South Orange and Maplewood School District will be receiving a $1.5 million grant for a comprehensive physical activity program.
The grant awarded was a three-year, $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP).
The award is the largest in the history of the grant program to a New Jersey school district, the first time a New Jersey school district has been awarded the grant twice, and the only PEP grant to a New Jersey school district this year.
“On behalf of the Board of Education,” said Board President Beth Daugherty, “I congratulate Ms. Judy LoBianco, Supervisor of Health, Physical Education, and Nursing Services, and her talented staff for their outstanding past work, and for this new opportunity to advance the health and wellness of all of our students.”
The money will be used to further develop the district's physical education program by infusing technology, improving curriculum, enhance teaching through professional development and expand children’s opportunities outside of school hours with the help of community partners.
“SOMSD embraces the whole child and values the role that physical activity plays in helping all children experience success in school and in life,” said Superintendent Brian Osborne. “We are so very proud of this grant proposal, which partners with the community to support First Lady Michelle Obama's Lets Move! Active Schools! Campaign and will use these resources to bring children to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.”
“It is only when our children are active that they learn better, experience fewer discipline problems and are more ready and focused for learning,” he added.
According to information released by the district, the Carol M. White Physical Education Program provides grants to local school districts and community- based organizations to initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs, including after-school programs, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting state standards.
The three-year project will transform the SOMSD physical education program to a community-connected wellness program focused on individual student achievement and increased activity, both now, and throughout their lives. SOMSD will implement a comprehensive school physical activity program which will provide students with a variety of opportunities before, during, and after the school day.
The goal is to improve student wellness by:
- Exposing students to a wide range of physical fitness opportunities (i.e. fitness equipment, yoga, video-game based fitness, swimming, classroom brain-breaks)
- Integrating nutrition and physical activity in physical education classes so that students understand the importance and inter-connectedness of both (i.e. Skillastics and CATCH curricula);
- Increasing access to appropriate activity equipment and facilities during and outside of the school day (i.e. programs offered by the local YMCA, Recreation Departments and YouthNet); and
- Teaching students about making good decisions daily in regard to their health (i.e. individual assessment tools).
"With this new funding, we now have an opportunity to engage our entire community in joining us as stakeholders in our mission to develop healthy, active children,” said Judy LoBianco, who was recognized earlier this year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) as the National PE Supervisor of the Year.
“Thank you to our partners: South Mountain YMCA, YouthNet, the Maplewood Recreation Department and South Orange Recreation Department for joining us in this adventure,” she added. “On behalf of my professional staff, we are excited to be working together to supplement physical education class time with opportunities to engage in physical activity before, during and after school.”