Get Up and Get Moving

A Peacemaking Project by Kathryn R.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Due to low health standards in children in West Virginia, many elementary school aged children spend too much time inactive and attached to screens and not being taught about healthy and active lifestyles. Get Up and Get Moving provides access for these children to engage in active and social play in a free after school program. College student volunteers work to plan and execute these events to provide a fun way to promote healthy lifestyles among children. We plan games that engage the children socially, intellectually, and encourage them to have fun and be themselves. College students help teach games that children can continue playing on their own, and play with the children in games like basketball, kickball, duck-duck-goose, musical chairs, and tag. Because of the large range of activities, children of all capabilities and interests can participate in these after school programs.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of childhood obesity
we will address lack of access to healthy food and exercise after school
by continuing our after school programming providing healthy snacks and play time with students

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Decrease health disparities in children in rural communities in Appalachia
  • Collaborate with elementary schools to promote healthy lifestyles

We will increase my / our compassion by...

Interacting with and educating children to increase their health and adult quality of life through games, encouraging role models, and positive, healthy environments. We want our events to be a place where it is safe for kids to be kids, express themselves, and learn constructively.

How will you show courage?

We will show courage by fighting stigmas associated with poor health and Appalachia, encouraging a healthy, bully-free play space, and deconstructing obstacles for children to access health, education, and an active lifestyle.

How will you collaborate with others?

We partner with 3 elementary schools in Upshur County, WV, as well as various campus organizations at WV Wesleyan College. We encourage service scholars, student athletes, Greek life members, and others to volunteer with us to be role models to the kids. The elementary schools provide us with locations, a means to advertise our events to kids and their parents, and playgrounds, toys, etc. We bring the volunteers, ideas for games, lesson topics, and activity calendars, snacks, and prizes for the children.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

We consider Get Up and Get Moving a positive start in the right direction when kids are engaged and excited about our events. We value time that they are not glued to a screen, are learning about how being active can be fun, and are interacting socially with their peers in a safe space. We are particularly encouraged when parents tell us that their kids play the games we teach them at home or complete their activity calendars. We also look forward to kids establishing new friendships with their peers and the college volunteers.

Key Steps

  • We will advertise for volunteers throughout the college campus
  • We will communicate with elementary schools to circulate permission slips to parents so that their kids can attend GUGM
  • We will provide toys, snacks, game ideas, and itineraries to volunteers
  • We will provide transportation to the schools for volunteers and inform parents of participating kids when to pick up their kids
  • We will either present a short lesson/ take home activity, or invite other volunteers to present a lesson
  • Play with kids! Typically basketball, tag, duck duck goose, jump rope, kick ball, musical chairs etc
  • Clean up, thank volunteers, sign kids out
  • Talk/ debrief volunteers in the cars on the way home to collect information on how to improve the next event

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

Get Up and Get Moving is an event that covers several injustices. One is health disparities in rural, medically- underserved, and lower socioeconomic areas, such as Upshur County, WV. In the two years that I have worked with Get Up and Get Moving, I have witnessed kids learning constructive play and social skills as a result of GUGM. I have also seen our volunteers playing positive roles in the children's lives, exposing them to race, walks of life, and activities that are not commonly found in rural West Virginia. I think it was also good exposure for our volunteers. I had the privilege, in April, to help a volunteer interact with a student on the Autism Spectrum. The volunteer did not have previous experience interacting with ASD kids, and I think it was a positive and enlightening experience for everyone involved.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Aside from information on healthy living and the opportunity for healthy play, which have more indirect and difficult to measure effects, one of the main community benefits of GUGM is the mentor role of our volunteers. It was really enjoyable to watch as kids got to know our regular volunteers and meet new ones, interacting with a wide range of college students and be aspired to pursue academics, athletics, musical and artistic endeavors, and be excited about college and adulthood due to their interactions with the college student volunteers.

How many people were impacted by your project?

270

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

We interact with about 220 kids a month, between the 3 schools. Most of the same kids come back month after month. We also bring about 10 college students with us/ school, but those students rotate and change, and over the course of the Spring 2018 semester we worked with about 50 College Student Volunteers.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

The fun part about working with kids is that you get to know them genuinely and quickly. They love sharing their stories with us. In my time working with GUGM, I have talked to kids who don't have yards to play outside, who live with grandparents who cannot teach them to play outdoor games, or who do not have the financial means to enroll in little league sports. In many places, simple things like learning to shoot hoops, or playing hopscotch, or jumping rope can be taken for granted. GUGM taught my teammates and I that sometimes a little play time can mean the world to a kid.

What did your team learn?

We learned to take responsibility, recruit volunteers, stay organized, and change plans on the run. We learned that, not matter their unfortunate background or circumstance, kids are fun-loving and hopeful and endearing and deserving of every opportunity. We learned that there are a lot of health disparities in rural communities and that they have long lasting impact on people and that they start, often, at a very young age. We learned that not a lot of people know or care about these disparities or injustices. It's been really cool to inform and show volunteers from all over the country and world some of the day-to-day struggles of these kids and educate them on how they can help.

What challenges did your team overcome?

Our GUGMs got cancelled due to Teacher Strikes, snow, and flooding this year, none of which we could do very much about. Therefore, when we were able to host GUGM again in April, we tried to get the word out sooner so we had a good turn out (2 of our largest GUGMs for 2 of our schools) and brought extra volunteers, so that it was maximally beneficial for everyone there. I think this worked well - we had games of foursquare, relay races, and full court basketball going on all at the same time and had the space and volunteers to facilitate all of that.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

Our most successful partnership is with the WV Wesleyan College Football team. The coaches sign up players for required service hours, and GUGM is a very popular option for them. They sign up 10-20 players, who carpool to the school sites. On the way there we brief the athletes on what GUGM is, some of the issues these schools face, and why we hold these events. Once there, the players are responsible for games with kids ranging from Kindergarten - 5th grade. Many of the guys come back month after month to the same schools, know the kids on a first name basis, and establish relationships with them. By the end of the year, many of the football players were sad to say goodbye. Because football is so involved and we can count on their volunteers, we have even considered opening GUGM in a fourth school!

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Perseverance, a sense of humor, and lots of supporters and helpers!

Our Updates:

Closing Spring 2018, Preparing for Fall 2018

Kathryn R. 18 May 2018 15:19 Hi Peace First! Get Up and Get Moving completed our Spring 2018 programs and are planning ahead for the fall. Due to some flooding and snow days in our area, we missed a couple of our GUGM days, so we had extra big events at all of our schools at the end of April, a total of about 240 kids. At all three of our schools, the theme of April was Teamwork, where we focused on team games like kickball and half-court basketball, or strategy games like 4-square and relay races. We thought this theme went over very well and kids were able to learn new games that they can play with each other outside of GUGM. 

Looking forward to Fall 2018, the team is welcoming in previous teammate as a new coordinator and 2 new team members. We used the funds provided by Peace First to purchase prizes that encourage interactive play and activity with the kids for next school year. We are really excited about the prizes and look forward to having volunteers teach the kids how to use them in the fall. Thank you for your support of us fulfilling our goals for Spring 2018 and for helping us prepare for a new year! 

Comments:

Adrian B.
13 February 2018 12:17

Hi Kathryn,

Thanks so much for posting this project! I'm excited to hear that you're invested in promoting health for everyone in your community. Our society has so many messages about the "obesity epidemic" that it's very common for people to believe that fatness is caused by poor diet and a lack of exercise, and that fatness causes many health problems.

When we unpack this more, though, there is a lot more evidence that the picture is much more complicated than this, and, as with many initiatives masquerading as "healthy" that focus on marginalized communities, the "war on obesity" actually has negative health effects on fat people, and is rooted in prejudice. Have you heard of the Health at Every Size model? Here's a website that talks more about this: https://haescommunity.com/

There's a lot of awesome writing about this topic, and great organizations talking about this work. Here's some more information.

General articles about the fat acceptance movement:

https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/04/just-the-fat-facts-maam/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/12/child-obesity-crisis-a-red-herring/
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/03/how-obesity-became-a-disease/388300/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/05/gtfo-with-obesity-epidemic/

Specifically about health and fatness:

https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/09/the-foodscape-argument/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/10/health-body-positivity-mistakes/
https://medium.com/@thefatshadow/on-your-concern-for-your-fat-friend-s-health-a27df6a1c855
https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/concern-trolling-is-bullshit/

Whew--I know that that's a lot of new information, and it might take a bit of time to absorb! The idea you have--around creating programming that promotes health--is so important. Everyone deserves access to health! How can we figure out a way for this programming to be accessible to everyone (including fat people--without pressure to lose weight, and including disabled people, too), and to address the root causes of poor health among children where you live? This is a complex issue--I'd love to talk more with you if you're open to it! Thanks so much for your work on this. I'm excited to see where this project goes.

Best,
Adrian

Kelsey T.
14 February 2018 14:22

Hi Kathryn! I’m part of the Peace First team and wanted to provide you with Feedback for your Compassionate Insight. We provide insight feedback to help teams further strengthen their ideas as they head into the plan phase -- and since the insight is an important part of the mini-grant application, we also welcome you to use it make any changes to strengthen your application.

This is a great project and your insight is strong as is -- it is great that you have identified a lack of access to healthy food and opportunities to exercise as a core root cause that contributes to poor health for many children. After school programming is a great way to address this root cause.
One way that you could make your insight even stronger is to consider the language you use to describe the injustice in the insight. After you digest Adrian's feedback and explore the Health at Every Size model, I'm curious about whether it might be worth exploring changing the language to reflect that the injustice is around a lack of health -- to ensure that people involved in the program feel celebrated for who they are while also getting access to nutritious food and opportunities to exercise to ensure that they are healthy as they grow up!

I'm also curious to hear more about your after school programming and excited to hear how your project progresses!

Kathryn R.
15 February 2018 2:48

Hi Adrian,
Thank you so much for your comment. We are definitely on the same page as you about making our events accessible to all kids, including those who would be considered obese and those with disabilities. Body acceptance instead of body shaming is incredibly important to us. A really large percentage of the kids who participate in Get Up and Get Moving (GUGM) would be considered over-weight, and I have never felt like they were unable to participate. The same is true regarding children with disabilities. We operate GUGM at 3 schools, and at two of the schools we have several kids who are regular attendees that have disabilities. We try to let our volunteers know that ahead of time, and we are always able to accommodate them in some way. We always have multiple games going on, so kids can choose activities they are more comfortable with and that fit their capabilities best. If the kids are socially engaged, being active, having fun, and not binge playing video games, I consider it a positive impact event.

These are also opportunities for kids to learn at a young age that being healthy can be fun, and not a negative expectation put on you by society. We are very careful to not promote the idea of being athletic or 'in-shape', but rather active and healthy. Our volunteers are all shapes and sizes, and so the kids see that any body type can play the games and enjoy the events.

Thank you so much for your resources. I appreciate your insight. I hope this cleared up some of the concerns about Get Up and Get Moving events,

Katie and the Appalachian Experience Team

Kathryn R.
15 February 2018 2:57

Thank you, Kelsey, for your comment. I responded to Adrian as well, hopefully to address some of the concerns that you both have with Get Up and Get Moving. I think that maybe our proposal may have been taken in the wrong way, so I will definitely reevaluate some of our language to make it clear that this is not and initiative to address a certain body type, but really to address the fact that so many kids in our area don't have access to places to play outside, don't have family or social structure to teach them a lot of games and let them be carefree kids, and don't have access to healthy diets.

I'll take another look at our proposal in the next few days and try to better portray what I think is a really positive initiative in these schools. I have seen kids of all shapes, sizes, abilities, socioeconomic statuses, and backgrounds playing games together and having a great time at Get Up and Get Moving and I hope you all will be able to see that too. I'll work on it in the next couple days,

Thanks!

Katie and the Appalachian Experience Team

Kelsey T.
16 February 2018 9:27

Hi Katie (and Team!) Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply and sharing more about your project. It sounds wonderful and sounds like you are thinking a lot about how to make the program inclusive-- so glad to hear that. I think the work you are doing is so important -- providing access to opportunities to play outside, get exercise, and learn healthy eating habits is so important for all children. It is also great that you are willing to take the time to think about how to best articulate your insight so that others can understand your work better. I'm impressed and look forward to seeing how your project evolves!!

Adrian B.
16 February 2018 12:35

Hi Katie,

Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment! It's helpful to know how thoughtful you're being in including everyone in your activities. I think maybe we're understanding some of the same language in different ways, which might be lending to the confusion! Can I tell you a about how some of the language landed with me that signaled to me that the project might not be inclusive? I want to help everyone who wants to use your project not have the same misunderstanding--because access to games, fresh air, and exercise is so important! I want everyone to be there. :)

In body positive/fat acceptance spaces, terms like "obesity epidemic" are avoided because they imply that fatness is a disease and must be eliminated, when in fact most health disparities between fat people and straight-sized people are due to discrimination. For the most part, weight loss is not something people can maintain long-term, and it has many negative health effects--so encouraging weight loss in any population is not a medically sound plan. "Obese" as a term is also avoided usually because of the pathologizing connotations.

I hope that understands some of the context in terms of fat community and changemaking! It's so easy to use these terms and not know the connotations, because of our society marginalizing fat people to such a huge extent. I hope that clears up where the confusion was--I'm happy to answer any more questions about language if you have some! And I'm very excited for this project to move forward. Let us know how we can support you in making that happen!

Best,
Adrian

Adrian B.
16 February 2018 13:10

(BTW, in case it didn't come across, I want to just say again that your thought process and care in making sure that this is an event that everyone can access, and where health can be a positive thing, is beautiful and transformative. Thank you, thank you for this work.)

Kathryn R.
20 February 2018 23:44

Hi Adrain,

Thank you for your feedback. My teammates and I have reviewed our write-up and carefully changed language to be more inclusive and less offensive. We hope that it is more clear that we are embracing everyone and want kids to be accepted, healthy, and happy.

Please let me know if you have any more feedback on our application.

Adrian B.
23 February 2018 14:39

Hi Kathryn,

Wow--this looks awesome! I love how your program works hard to make sure everyone is included, and I appreciate how thoughtful you've been about adapting your language so it doesn't accidentally turn away the fabulous youth you want to work with. I'm so excited to watch this project grow. Let me know if there's any way we can support you moving forward. :)

Adrian

Kathryn R.
25 February 2018 23:53

Great! I'm glad that this helped. Thanks so much again for your feedback! Is there anything else that our project needs at this point?

Adrian B.
1 March 2018 10:12

Not that I can think of! I love this project. :) Are things you think your project needs? How can we support you?

Amani A.
27 March 2018 12:47

Hi Kathryn!

We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for a mini-grant of up to $250.

The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.

As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project

Then, through your dashboard you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.

Let us know if you have questions. We're looking forward to supporting your project!

Kelsey T.
13 April 2018 10:05

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths:
This is a strong project overall -- you've done a great job articulating how you are using courage, compassion, and collaboration, and have a very clear list of goals and steps to achieve those goals! I love that you are collaborating with such a wide group of college students as well as schools and love your emphasis on inclusion, building relationships among students as well as improving their health, and pushing back against stigmas.

Things to Consider:
Although you've listed some good qualitative indicators of success (the children playing those games at home, engagement, etc.), I think you could think a bit more about how to measure your impact. This could include really basic things like having a system to keep track of how many students participate in the program, but you could also consider other ways to track impact on the lifestyles of the children you are working with -- have you considered doing a student or parent survey, for example?
Although I know from our conversations that we've had on your project page (and your exchanges with Adrian) that you have thought a lot about inclusion, I'd also encourage you to reframe the language that you are using in your insight to describe the injustice (to Adrian's point about how terms like the "obesity epidemic" can offend some folks). I think your description of the injustice in your project overview is perfect-- but you may want to change the term "childhood obesity" in your compassionate insight to better reflect those values of inclusion -- perhaps by focusing more on a general lack of health and active habits (rather than the way that manifests in folks bodies). As you know, language is so important!

So excited about your fabulous project -- keep up the good work!

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!

Fish S.
15 June 2018 13:36

Hi Kathryn!

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future!

I'm really impressed by all the work that you've done - especially the number of student volunteers you've engaged (and the fact that you've kept them coming back). So many folks struggle with organizing large groups of volunteers - but you have a real knack for it! (I'd be interested to know your secret!)

I'm also really excited by the fact that you and your team continue to dive deeper into the structural inequalities that drive health disparity in rural communities. Do you have any new ideas about how these can be addressed - and how your project can address them?

Finally, I'm really glad that you want to continue your work -- it's so important! We'll continue to be here to support your team. Thanks for what you do!

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

Fish