Summer Resource Fair 2010
Amy Adkins, Health and Wellness Specialist for the ExCEL After School Program helps promote the benefit of physical activity and nutrition..


Instant Recess Supports Student Academic Performance

The role physical activity plays in a student’s life cannot be underestimated.  Ask Amy Adkins, Health and Wellness Specialist for the ExCEL After School Program and she’ll tell you.  “Students are more attentive after being active.  Physical activity is like 'miracle grow' for the brain."

For the last three years, Amy has worked with after school staff in their quest to engage students in quality physical activity.  She cites Guadalupe Elementary After School Program as a site that made intentional changes resulting in increased opportunities for students to be more active.   “We provided professional development for their staff and helped them look at ways to engage students and get them more vigorously active.  We also identified a program leader to teach the ‘game of the week’ to other program staff. This was an easy strategy for getting all the staff involved and providing more chances to be active for their students.”

“Sometimes it's a challenge to understand the role that nutrition and physical activity programming plays in after school time,” continued Amy. “And just like the school day, there are scheduling challenges and academic pressures that often compromise offering extended time for physical activity.  So, we've been creative in helping our youth get their recommended 60 minutes a day by inserting 'instant recess' into the after school schedule—having small physical activity breaks throughout program time. These physical activity breaks are a great way for everyone to re-energize and be active together." 

What does Amy like best about her work? “We have amazing and creative program staff and I love when I get to go out to sites and see them taking the skills learned in a training and bringing them to life.”

“I like the ‘aha’ moment when the program leader gets why it’s important for their students to be active and eat healthy—that light bulb moment when they tie everything together. A great example is the ‘Re-think Your Drink’ lesson and seeing first hand how much sugar is in your favorite sweetened beverage.”

What about Amy’s personal commitment to physical activity, how does she integrate it into her own life? “I try to embed activity into my day with my own 'instant recess' a couple of times during the day. I also enjoy making it to a spin class, running in the Headlands, and walking my dog Willie.  Recently, I started working as a Wellness Coach while preparing for my Personal Training Certification.  If I didn’t have a job I’d live in a tropical climate and surf every day.”


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  Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District