Get Up and Get Moving

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
continuing our after school programming providing healthy snacks and play time with students
Our Plan
Our Project 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?
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.
Create a list of key steps you will take
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
The impact we've made
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 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.