Since launching standing desks for the classroom into the Canadian marketplace in 2016, the team at Fitneff has been inspired by the positive feedback from both teachers and students. As with adults, it is simply unhealthy for children and teenagers to be seated for long periods of time throughout the day. Educators know this, and it is why so much work goes into keeping kids moving. Recess, gym class and periods of Daily Physical Activity (also known as DPA) are all intended to allow students to be physically active during the school day.
Still, Ottawa school teacher Nathan Rice felt that he needed to go further to encourage the kids in his classroom to get moving. “Even with regular breaks throughout the day, some kids just struggle to stay focused when they’re sitting in the classroom for long stretches at a time. Kids respond well to short activity breaks. Sometimes, it’s all that they need to get back to the lesson, or to get back to their work.”
This is what drove Nathan Rice to engage his brother Matthew, who also had experience working with kids, to help him create the Free the Numbum program. They started by creating short, fun and energetic videos to be played in front of the classroom, to introduce a quick activity break during an otherwise long session of teaching or focused work.
The videos worked so well for Nathan's students, the brothers decided to create a self-serve website that could be accessed by other teachers at any time, allowing them to use the video content in their classrooms.
“We deliver high energy and spontaneous video content that will get students excited about being active.” Nathan Rice explains. “You don’t need a lot of space, or any special equipment. Our hope is that these experiences will refresh and rejuvenate our students both physically and mentally, and that they will begin to understand the importance of Daily Physical Activity (DPA).”
The program now features an entire series of videos that encourage a wide variety of activities, including stretching, jumping jacks, scissor kicks, squats and karate chops. New content is being added all the time. Some videos allow students to work with a partner and complete activities together. Students can also set goals, gather points for completing videos, and track progress as a group.
The program has received extremely positive feedback from teachers and students:
“I can use Free the Numbum as a break when I can see that the students are becoming overwhelmed by the academic portion of our day. It is great for indoor recess. It can be used as an incentive, or a reward for completing a task or a goal.” - Teacher
“ It’s a great way to take a break, and it’s strenuous enough to get the heart rates up.” - Teacher
“ Our class loves it. The whole class goes crazy when the teacher says it’s time for Free the Numbum.” - Student
The Free the Numbum Challenge begins this week!
From March 20 - April 13, teachers have the opportunity to participate in Free the Numbum for a chance to win! Register today, complete videos, earn points and win prizes, including a standing desk for the classroom from Fitneff.
For more details, and to sign up yourself, visit Free the Numbum today!
Kudos to Nathan, Matthew, and to all the amazing educators across the country who are using innovation and fun to inspire kids to be healthy and active at school.
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Spring if finally upon us! With the opening of the windows and doors, along with sunshine and fresh air, we are greeted with so many new opportunities to get active that don’t seem so apparent during the winter months. Getting outdoors takes much less preparation and effort. Being outdoors is pleasant and easy (at least for those of us who prefer warmer weather). The benefits of being active in spring go beyond just feeling good and being healthy, and might not be what you expect. Let’s take a look.
I had the honour of speaking with Olive Myhre the day after her 105th birthday. Olive has lived through events that most of us only read about in history books, including two World Wars, the introduction of the automobile, the invention of the computer, and man’s first steps on the moon. I was able to learn about her life and her perspective on health and happiness. Here is our interview.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I have chosen to profile Laurel Walzak, the female co-founder of Fitneff Inc. Laurel has been successful in so many areas of her career - first as a trailblazer in the sports business industry, then as an entrepreneur and most recently as an Assistant Professor of Sports Media at Ryerson University.
Laurel also spends a great deal of her time and energy outside the office in efforts to advance the careers of young women who are making their start. I asked Laurel some important questions about the role of women in business, and the role that she plays in advocating for other women in her life.