The New America School (NAS), located on the east side of the Lowry neighborhood, bordering Denver and Aurora, Colorado has been piloting the BodyBank web-based app for the past 3 years. This tool, which gamifies comprehensive health, was created for secondary students by New America School’s Wellness Coordinator, Nate Melson. How do we motivate high school and upper middle school students to improve their health habits in the United States, one of the poorest (for body economics) countries in the world? BodyBank’s answer: empower students with an inclusive, comprehensive, and engaging tool.
The “powered by BodyBank” school message has now been established by all three New America School-Colorado campuses. In addition to the campus located in Lowry, there is also a campus located in Thornton and in Lakewood, Colorado. These three campuses combine to serve approximately 500 high school students. NAS-Lowry draws students from Denver’s more vulnerable populations. Moreover, located in the NAS-Lowry service-area are three primary refugee housing centers: Hidden Brooke, Xenia, and Grace Apartments. NAS-Thornton draws most of its student population from Southwest Thornton. Southwest Thornton is 57.16% Latino; 18.13% foreign born; 12.55% are non-English speaking; 16.76% of families and 22.67% of Latinos are in poverty; 12.41% are unemployed; 26.54% of adults do not have a high school degree; and 8.47% are teen moms. NAS-Lakewood draws students from Westwood and Barnum West, neighborhoods that surpass the Denver average for non-US-born and non-English speaking residents. These neighborhoods have a greater percentage of families living in poverty and unemployed.
The standard American diet of junk food, minimal vigorous or moderate fitness, and the increase of screen time by students, staff, and families requires a counteraction by the wellness champions in our school communities. In addition, the mental health challenges continue to escalate in our culture of high stress. This counteraction must provide whole school, whole community, and whole child support. The vulnerable populations previously listed for NAS-Lowry, NAS-Thornton, and NAS-Lakewood are all at high-risk for poor diet, minimal fitness, increased screen time, and mental health challenges.
In addition to the challenges previously mentioned, in the past, the New America School’s wellness champions (committee) were only made up of after school programming coordinators, school nurses, and one certified health and physical education teacher. The lack of personnel on the wellness committee made it difficult to implement health and wellness efforts across all three campuses.
Current efforts have developed wellness committees at each of the 3 campuses. In addition, expansion of the committees to include the voice of another certified health and physical education teacher, behavioral, attendance, and academic interventionists, principals, content teachers, and family representatives was achieved. The purpose of having wellness committees at each campus is to spread consistent messaging around healthy lifestyles and to promote the common vision of “powered by BodyBank”.
The New America School’s solution has also included development of common language and common vision around the promotion of healthy habit change. This commitment has led to the implementation of the BodyBank framework. This framework includes use of the BodyBank web-based app and hallways lined with the BodyBank poster collection.
The mission of BodyBank is to combat the standard American stimulant and substance abuse lifestyle by providing an interactive visual medium to aid in health habit change.
As BodyBank provides a comprehensive angle for tackling the physical and mental health crisis in our schools, it considers PEOPLE stress, MONEY stress, PERSONAL stress, CLOCK stress, and HEALTH stress along with the physical health components of SLEEP, WATER, FITNESS, FOOD/SUBSTANCE, SUNSHINE, REST/MINDFULNESS, and HYGIENE (see attached screenshot).
Over 47,000 data points were logged in the first 3 months of use by 181 NAS-Lowry student/staff users. For a deep dive look into NAS-Lowry’s 2020, Q3 BodyBank data (pre-COVID tracking), click here. This model has provided each campus with a seamless transition for wellness education during the COVID-19 era of remote learning. To prove this point, use of the app held steady during the transition to remote learning. In addition, student and staff interaction with all health components in the app has increased from Q3 of 2020 to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year with remote learning.
A lack of real time data provided by the app, for weekly progress reflections, is included in the 2018-20 lessons learned. In addition, family and community involvement has been minimal due to the absence of a family/community sign-up option. Administrators and school staff relied on the BodyBank software development team to provide quarterly data and to create the school’s app settings (interval dates, points needed, viewed student points, viewed staff points, designation of student and staff).
The BodyBank app development team has added specific capabilities for school admin (the school wellness champion), staff, and students. Admin can enroll the school, see staff points, designate staff and student users, and schedule interval setting such as interval dates and points needed. Admin and staff can now see student points. All users can view their real time data by accessing a previous week progress screen, adjust their user profile, and reset their password (see photo).
BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2021, a Family and Community sign-up tab will be added so that family and community members can join the team of a student or staff member! Therefore, all users will be able to view their team’s total points, individual points, and school rank. To join a team, a $5 donation will be required. All donations will go to the selected school during the last month of the school’s annual subscription period.
A BodyBank statement with school specific wellness data will also be provided towards the end of the school’s annual subscription period.
As BodyBank aims to reduce the national debt one school at a time, will you and your school open a BodyBank account? To learn more about enrolling your school or for more information about becoming a school “powered by BodyBank”, contact Nate Melson at firstname.lastname@example.org at 501-912-4253 or visit https://bodybank.co
“I used to have a hard time focusing in class and now I don’t. It has helped me reach a goal by sleeping more.”
“The app just helped me stay focused on reaching a goal before the end of the year.”
“By doing the BodyBank app I’ve stopped eating at fast food places and cooking more healthy meals.”
“This app has helped me a lot with how I’m treating my body and how I’m dealing with my mood.”