Bringing our standards-based health curriculum to life is important if we want students to make connections between the classroom and the world in which they live. We need to find ways in which students can promote healthy norms and healthy behaviors and we have to provide students with the opportunity to amplify their health-enhancing messages to encourage friends and family to adopt healthy behaviors. When 2019 OAHPERD Health Teacher of the Year Maria Schneider asked me if she could share her recent successes and write her first blog post in 15 years (!), I had to say yes!
A twist to the traditional Field Day
11 years ago, our middle school was taking a look at our typical last day of school field day activities and felt it was time to make a change. A small group of staff members brainstormed ideas and at that time, I mentioned a new program called Kick It to them.
“Kick-It” was founded in Chagrin Falls, Ohio by 10-year-old Quinn Clarke during his second battle with cancer. He asked his parents if he could have a kickball game to raise money for research and was shocked when more than 500 people came to support him. That afternoon has inspired people from across the country and as far away as Hawaii and Australia to help save the lives of children with cancer.”
At the time, we had a few students in our district who were either in remission or battling cancer. A new vision for our typical field day unfolded and $340K and 11 years later we just concluded our 2020 Kick it with the BEES season (Quarantine style)!
What started as a simple concept at our school, has now grown to our community coming together to raise money and awareness to fight pediatric cancer. We do this for the obvious reason of fighting a horrible disease, but also as an attempt to show our students that helping others, caring for others and sacrificing for others are life skills we value. We encourage our students to help raise awareness and fund pediatric cancer research.
We do it for our own Kick It kids. We have had over 10 kids in past years who have battled cancer. We Kick It this year in memory of Brent and in honor of Lauren, Sylvia, Ricky and Zachary.
This year’s Kick it with the BEES looked completely different, but we knew our students could still help make a difference. It has never been just about raising the money but to teach kids to find ways to help raise awareness while learning empathy, advocacy and service.
As a skills-based health educator, have you ever felt that NHES Standard 8 gets pushed to the side in your attempt to hit as much as you can in the short amount of time we have with our students? A way to help you hit this standard is to teach in a school wide initiative. Maybe Kick It isn’t something that you can relate to, but maybe there is another organization that you can tie your field day to. I have been overwhelmed and humbled over the years at what our students come up with as ideas to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer. It is to this end, I would like to share what a typical Kick It with the BEES campaign looks like!
To get an inside look at our 2019 campaign, check out this video our Builders Club students and a staff member made about Kick It. They submitted it to John Green’s, Project for Awesome (help decrease world suck) in the attempt to raise more money, however, they just haven’t been chosen…yet.
When I first introduced the concept of Kick It, our primary focus was on the last day of school and how we could still incorporate a “field day feeling” without the need to come up with a plethora of stations, just organized kick ball games! I formed a committee of staff members and we got to work. The first few years required more weekly meetings starting in March and now that we are on year 11, we meet only when necessary to collaborate. It has truly become a TEAM effort. We each do our part to make it a success.
My advice is to start small. As I share various things we have done, please know this has been 11 years in the making. Each year we learn, adjust and adapt. We continue to grow and try new things each year.
Timeline to a successful event!
- Fall – open up a requisition request for the organization you will raise money for. That way any money that comes IN to through the school, it goes into that account. At the end of the school year, all monies raised can be cut into a check to the organization. In the first years, we raised money strictly during the month of May. However, over the years and the more popular Kick it with the BEES became, we had organizations donating money early on. We also have kids who host birthday parties and ask for donations instead of presents. One girl has raised over 3k the past 4 years for her birthday party!
- Let’s keep talking about money for a second. I encourage you to try and ask all donations to be written directly to the organization via check or direct donation online to your event page. Here is a link that shows what our school earned each year since we began and how you can set up your pages. We do have students who will bring money in from lemonade stands, bake sales, etc. That is when we deposit into our account and cut a check at the end of the event.
- In March, invite staff who would like to join your committee to plan. Host a meeting to begin discussions.
T-shirt design contest. We offer our students to design our Kick It shirt for the year. We give them a theme or a few ideas and they can draw a design to submit. Here is an example of shirts made during quarantine this year that made it to the final vote. Students and staff voted and one shirt was chosen.
If possible, set up a Kick off to your event. Our assembly has transitioned to our auditorium over the years because we make it more personable and touching with our Kick It Kids. We have been blessed to have our CAVS Scream Team come to every opening assembly. It helps break up the more serious part of the assembly.
- Sponsorships. One way to raise money for your event is to ask companies to sponsor the event and have a spot on the back of the TShirts you sell. Here is a sample letter we send out to local businesses. Students will also ask their parents companies to sponsor.
- After your opening assembly, the next month is the “meat of the fundraising”. We encourage students to find ways to fundraise other than simply asking for donations. Here is a list of ideas students have done in years past and a link
- to what we did this year from home…..
- Host a carwash
- Host a lemonade stand
- Host a bake sale – we have had students get together and work a bake sale after the masses at our local Catholic church on a Sunday after each mass. This in particular raises about $3k.
- Cut a neighbor’s grass
- Vendor License – approved in school (we have a staff member who distributes and keeps track) – they carry cards around and are approved to sell homemade items in school during the day.
- Student organized 5k in neighborhood
- Donate babysitting money
- Volleyball, Basketball, Spikeball Tourneys after school
- During Quarantine, they got very creative and some orchestra students hosted lawn concerts!
- Our staff and students also organizes some other community events:
- Pirate/Princess Party – students run with a staff member. Younger kids in the district come to hang out for a few hours and stations are set up to our theme.
- Kuttin’ it for Kick it. We have a barbershop and hair salon that comes in each year on a Monday to Shave Heads or cut hair for Wig donations. It truly is amazing to see kids willing to shave their heads or cut their hair for a cause. We were even successful with the “Corona version”.
- Raffle Baskets – we ask for donations for gift cards, gifts, etc. and on the last day of school during our final assembly, we announce the winners.
- Kick it shirts – we typically sell around 400 shirts.
- Dunk Tank/Carnival Day – this is typically done on the last Friday before the school year ends. It has grown each year and we have made over 6K in one single day! Students dunk their teachers and we have our Builders Club run carnival games/events. We also will sell sno-cones, water, candy. We set up times for each grade/team to come out, which typically is ONE hour total of the school day.
Here is a video that shows what our students did this year during quarantine. They still raised $16k from home! The song is sung by some of our choir students from home, too! Kick it with the BEES 2020
I feel as if I could go on forever sharing what our students have done to help advocate and raise money for pediatric cancer. Our first year of Kick it, students from a History teachers class brought down an envelope to me with money in it. On the envelope it read…
“ I GIVE NOW SO OTHERS CAN DO WHEN I CAN NOT.”
Feel free to reach out to Maria Schneider for any questions you may have.
It was at the moment I realized we were doing something far more extraordinary than a field day. We were teaching children empathy, service, advocacy. They will take these lessons with them for the rest of their lives. It will teach them the soft skills needed in a hard skill work environment.
On our last day of school we have our Kickball games and final assembly. It has turned into a day far beyond just playing kickball and time to sign yearbooks. We have food trucks and time to celebrate our success. At our assembly before we “clap out” our 8th graders, we share stories, listen to our “BEEtles” play (staff members who created a band), call out raffle winners, maybe shave a staff members head or throw a pie in a face if and then announce how much money was raised. It is truly a day of celebration and admiration to what our students, staff and community accomplished. Students in lower grades can not wait to get to middle school to participate in Kick it with the BEES. High School students ask to come back or volunteer to do things as they miss that special time of year. Here is a quick clip of a school wide sing along on final assembly day. Clouds by Zach Sobiech
I encourage you to start small and watch it grow. It won’t be easy, but it is worth every extra effort beyond your classroom walls.
Feel free to reach out to me for any questions you may have: Schneiderm@bbhcsd.org
Other recent blog posts that you might like to check out include:
Better Sleep During the Pandemic – this is a post that you’ll want to share with your students.
You’re Prepared for This – another one worth sharing with students as it shows them how the skills learned in health will help them through the pandemic.