Creating Opportunities For Physical Activity (COPA)

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Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers’ Creating Opportunities For Physical Activity program believes all schools should provide children the opportunity to be active and healthy before, during, and after school. Every day we coach, guide, and inspire children, parents, teachers, and school staff to create a culture of daily physical activity and healthy eating, because everyone should live and learn in a healthy environment. 

Creating Opportunities for Physical Activity (COPA) provides the following services:

  • Peer-coach training for teachers. Physical Education teachers have been eliminated in many urban, public schools.  COPA uses a peer coach model to teach elementary classroom teachers how to provide Physical Education using a Providence designed and standards-based Physical Education curriculum.
  • Increase Physical Activity Opportunities. Through trainings for before and afterschool staff, trainings for recess staff, special events such as Cardio-Carnivals and Jog-a-thons, and in-class activities such as Instant Recess®, COPA provides children with numerous opportunities to be active throughout the day.
  • Family activities to promote parents as role models for healthy behavior. COPA provides exercise classes, health education and special family nights that teach easy, low cost ways to be healthy.
  • Healthy Eating. COPA promotes healthy eating through various nutrition campaigns, lessons, and the introduction of salad bars as part of the school lunch.

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COPA Works!

An independent evaluation shows that children who attend schools where COPA is implemented participate in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, have improved cardiovascular endurance, and improved weight after the program is implemented at their school. In addition, mounting scientific evidence supports the link between physical activity and improved academic achievement in students. 

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A COPA Story

COPAgirlhulahoopProvidence is proud to partner with school districts in the Southern California region to improve student health.  In 2013, Providence received a 3-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Carol M. White Physical Education Program. This grant allowed us to hire Physical Education Specialists to work with 185 classroom teachers in 7 Los Angeles Unified Elementary Schools in Wilmington, CA.  From 2013-2016, the Specialists worked with teachers, supported by Providence Physical Education Instructors and a Health Educator to improve food choices and increase opportunities for activity before, during, and after school for 4,500 children. These activities did not go unnoticed.

In 2016, only 7 schools in the entire Los Angeles Unified School District were recognized by the national organization, Alliance for a Healthier Generation for their accomplishments in promoting health among students.  Six of those 7 schools were the elementary schools with which Providence worked over the past 3 years. These 6 Wilmington schools received a Bronze award from the Alliance, an organization founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation. These schools were also recognized by the first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s move!” program.

David Kooper, principal of Gulf Avenue Elementary School in Wilmington credits Providence’s COPA program for the schools achieving this recognition. Changing how schools incentivize good behavior is one method Providence uses to improve health. Kooper notes, “We just need to make better choices and we’ve been having discussions on how to incentivize without food. So instead of having a popcorn or pizza party, we’ll have favorite physical activities”.

Together, Providence in partnership with local schools, is improving the environment for healthy eating and active living for thousands of children in the Los Angeles region. We congratulate the children, teachers, school staff, parents, and our COPA team for the great accomplishments made to improve children’s health

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