The Physical Activity and Learning Program, or PALs, provides after-school enrichment aimed at improving children's health and stimulating their learning in reading and mathematics. The program serves about 60 children in two schools in the Clarke County School District.
This after-school program is the culmination of more than a decade of research that shows children's increased physical activity can lead to higher academic achievement.
University of Georgia (UGA), acting as fiscal agent, and the Clarke County School District (CCSD) are Partners ready to deliver a proven, research-based, and pilot-tested (in CCSD schools) after-school enrichment program to 60 children in grades 2-5 who are currently not receiving academic achievement or health-promoting services from CCSD, Title I, or 21st CCLC programs.
A number of students attending the two targeted schools struggle academically with mathematics and reading, fail to engage in adequate physical activity, and live in economically disadvantaged homes that preclude the encouragement of appropriate health and academic behaviors. Most parents cannot afford high-quality after-school programs for their children. UGA teacher educators and health promotion and kinesiology professors experienced in delivering successful in- and out-of-school interventions will work with administrators, parents, and other community stakeholders and directly with CCSD staff to provide a unique, hands-on, engaging, developmentally appropriate after-school program that has been shown to improve both children's academic performance and their fitness level.
Over 33 weeks annually, the Physical Activity and Learning Program (PAL) will: a) stimulate children's learning and academic achievement in mathematics and reading; b) increase physical activity levels and health behaviors; and c) promote family involvement in guiding children's academic and health-related behaviors at home. During every 2.75 hour session, students first will receive homework assistance and then participate in a set of physical activity games uniquely designed to prepare children to mentally attend and retain the academic knowledge that will be delivered by specialists in mathematics and reading. Academic gains evidenced at school will be reinforced through a multidisciplinary Family Engagement component designed to encourage academic- and health-related behavior at home. A robust external evaluation of the PAL Program will document quantified, expected outcomes. Program sustainability is built into PAL Program via the continued involvement of UGA faculty, community groups committed to working with impoverished families, and from the ranks of UGA Service-Learning students.