First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Funding Opportunity for Schools to Implement Innovative Programs Targeting Childhood Obesity

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's CHALK/Just Move Program Is Among Highlighted Programs

Feb 28, 2013


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's CHALK/Just Move program is one of three programs selected by ChildObesity180, a national organization comprising public, nonprofit, academic, and private-sector leaders, for its Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP). An opportunity for schools across the country to apply for a grant to implement one of the three model programs was announced today in Chicago, with first lady Michelle Obama, as part of her "Let's Move! Active Schools" campaign.

Schools across the country can apply for an ASAP Acceleration Grant to implement the CHALK/Just Move program. The grants will provide 1,000 schools with the resources they need — seed funding, training, and support — to replicate the CHALK/Just Move program or another innovative model of school-based physical activity. Each program offers a unique and easily replicated approach to increase physical activity in schools, ensuring a match for schools of all types, sizes, and geographic regions.

"We're delighted that NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's CHALK/Just Move program has been selected as a promising approach to increase children's physical activity and reduce the growing obesity epidemic in our nation," says Dr. Steven J. Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "Fostering good health and well-being is an integral part of our patient care and community service mission as an academic medical center, and we applaud Mrs. Obama and her ‘Let's Move! Active Schools' initiative and ChildObesity180's ASAP project for promoting healthy lifestyles among school children."

Developed by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and its Ambulatory Care Network in an urban area with limited recreational space, the CHALK/Just Move program demonstrates that even without a gymnasium or outdoor play space, a school can become an active one. The classroom-based movement program uses a set of activity cards to lead the class in aerobic, yoga, stretching, and meditation exercises — getting kids up and active right at their desks. Exercises are tied to the common core state standards, allowing teachers to weave in math, science, and English language arts material to complement the day's lesson plan.

Many schools add music to increase the fun factor. Pop music helps raise heart rates during vigorous exercises, while meditative tracks calm students at the close of each break, ensuring a smooth transition back to academics.

Student ownership helps ensure that the program is fun and embraced by the kids. Students vote on the songs they'd like to hear, serve as the demonstration models on the activity cards, and help teachers run the breaks. In younger grades students are invited to demonstrate alongside their teacher, while in older grades students themselves take the reins. Designation as a student leader is an important privilege bestowed upon a student; these leaders take their role seriously. By allowing students to guide their peers, CHALK/Just Move doubles as an exercise in confidence-building.

Teachers value the CHALK/Just Move program both as a transition tool to move students between subjects and as a "reset button" to help focus the class. Teachers have significant flexibility in implementing the program during the school day to best fit their lesson plan. This makes CHALK/Just Move practical for use throughout the school year and for a variety of schedule configurations. CHALK/Just Move is also offered for Smart Boards, allowing teachers to be creative in integrating lessons into the exercise movements.

"The CHALK/Just Move program has shown that bringing physical activity programs into schools can be simple, fun, and effective," said Dr. Dodi Meyer, medical director of CHALK/Just Move, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, and a pediatrician at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. "This grant opportunity will help make physical activity an integral, welcome part of the daily lives of children across the country."

Research shows that physically active kids do better academically and behaviorally, and schools are a great place for boosting their physical activity.

Teachers, parents, coaches, and other school wellness "champions" who are ready to take a leadership role in bringing physical activity to their school are encouraged to apply for an ASAP Acceleration Grant. Applications will be accepted through April 22, 2013, and $1 million in total will support the programs. For more information, visit here

About ChildObesity180

Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) is an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization committed to cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. The ChildObesity180 membership is comprised of national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy to prevent childhood obesity. The organization is chaired by Peter Dolan, former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Leading Tufts University childhood obesity and nutrition researcher Dr. Christina Economos serves as vice-chair and director, and Dr. Miriam Nelson, a Professor at the Friedman School, is the co-director. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the JPB Foundation are strategic funders. For more information about ChildObesity180 and the Active Schools Acceleration Project, please visit

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