Learning to Move

Childhood obesity rates are rising throughout the South Bay, creating health hazards that will impact our community, our families and our economy for generations to come. In innovating ways to treat this growing problem, PLCM created a unique innovative program based on the concept of moving that is designed to halt the ever increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in our local communities.

It's simple! By teaching physical education instruction skills to elementary school teachers, we are able to increase physical activity for a great number of children. We are able to help children know the joy of physical movement. Together, we are able to impart skills the children - and their families - can use and enjoy throughout their lifetimes.

Creating Opportunities for Physical Activity (COPA) pairs Physical Education Specialists - as peer coaches - with classroom teachers, to bring California standards-based physical education instruction both to teachers and their students.

During a 2-year program, Physical Education Specialists teach teachers how to instruct and motivate their students. The results have been exciting!

A COPA Teacher's Story

I am a teacher, but definitely not a PE teacher. In fact, I was the chubby 1st grader who cringed while the PE teacher shouted out my weight in front of everyone. I was usually picked almost last for every team, and looked horrible in my gym uniform. I don't have good memories of PE!

But as a grade school teacher, I am responsible for physical education. For years, I would take my kids outside for the required 20 minutes, not knowing what to do with them. When COPA came to our school, and I saw how much fun the kids had in the program, I volunteered to make it part of my weekly program.

The COPA PE Specialist was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and supportive of my efforts to learn how to teach the kids. For the 1st year, I watched him teach and started to teach one aspect of the lesson. By the 2nd year, I was on my own.

I am very proud to be part of the COPA program. I am proud of myself and my kids, and thankful for the lessons I have learned. It has brought joy to us all!

Changing the lives of kids and families

Parents say they see increases in physical activity - and confidence - in their children as a result of COPA, a school day and after school physical activity program that operated at 13 elementary schools in the communities of San Pedro, Wilmington, Lawndale and Hawthorne. They have more conversations with their children about the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet. Parents also say they feel the programs have helped create stronger bonds among friends and families. Henry's story is a case-in-point.

Henry spent the first few years of his life on a boat, traveling the world with his parents. Although very bright - he speaks several languages - Henry hadn't spent much time with other children. When he began 2nd grade in Wilmington, his social skills and gross motor skills were developmentally behind, and he wasn't fluent in English. He needed help!

Henry's teacher asked his mom for permission to get him started in the COPA: After School program, and she said yes. There, he was able to work on his English and social skills while learning basic movement skills. He has loved the extra physical activity, and benefited from the extra time with his peers. His confidence and happiness have grown!

Today, Henry continues to thrive both in school and at home. At a recent Family Night session, his mom thanked the staff for the wonderful COPA experience, both for Henry and the family. It has encouraged them all to be more physically active!

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