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Activate Research Study

Principal Investigators: Lesley Cottrell and Nancy O'Hara Tompkins
Start Date: October 2014
End Date: September 2019
Funding Source: USDHHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Activate! is the primary applied research project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is an intervention study that uses community health workers to increase activity in the home and school personnel to implement physical activity throughout the school day. The long-term goal for Activate! is to increase physical activity and improve the academic performance of fifth grade students.

As part of the Activate! program, families focus on increasing their physical activity outside of the school day. In order to achieve this goal, community health workers meet with families individually and host family fun nights at their schools. Each family creates a specific family action plan to follow during the intervention.

Fifth grade classroom teachers use "Brain Boosters" and integrated physical activity lessons to increase movement and stimulation during the school day. The teachers say the program is a great way to get kids up and active during their daily lessons.

Drs. Nancy O’Hara Tompkins and Lesley Cottrell are the Principal Investigators of the project and work with Project Specialist Charlotte Workman. Together with the WVPRC, they hope to see a significant improvement in students’ physical activity and standardized test scores at the end of the Activate! intervention.

The long-term goal of the WVPRCs applied research project is to increase student physical activity, improve aerobic fitness, combat health risks, and improve academic performance using a coordinated schools approach that incorporates school and family-based strategies that promote physical activity. Project partners include: state and local health departments in the Mid-Ohio Valley, state and local departments of education, a state-wide cardiovascular risk screening program, and members of the WVPRCs Community Partnership Board.

The WVPRCs applied research project will:

1) Define and document current school physical education and recess practices among elementary schools in WV and compare student health and academic outcomes based on school practices.

2) Test effectiveness of school- and family-based physical activity interventions in terms of improved child physical activity, health, and academic outcomes.

3) Translate research results into environmental and policy recommendations at the local, regional, and state levels to increase student access to effective physical activity and education.

These outcomes have local, regional, and/or state level policy and practice relevance. These include a state report of current physical education, physical activity policy recommendations to enhance policy and practice for physical activity in schools, the home environment, and recess practices in all elementary schools throughout the state, and enhance partnerships among schools, families, and local health departments.