NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 Announce Continued Commitment to Supporting Youth Health & Wellness

National PTA is proud to support the GENYOUth Foundation and its flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, the largest health and wellness program in schools across the country.

Today, GENYOUth, Fuel Up to Play 60, the NFL and USA Football announced an expansion of their commitment to youth health and wellness by giving NFL FLAG Essentials Kits to one million students across 2,500 schools nationwide, including 10 focus cities: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The expansion of the program will help boost physical education in schools and inspire more kids to be active.

More information on this exciting announcement is included below.bag

NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 Announce Continued Commitment to Supporting Youth Health & Wellness Through NFL FLAG

One Million New Students Will Get Active Through NFL FLAG Essentials Kits to Boost Activity and Encourage Kids to ‘Play 60’ Nationwide

CHICAGO, Ill. (April 29, 2015) – NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 today announced the expansion of their commitment to youth health and wellness by giving NFL FLAG Essentials Kits to one million students across 2,500 schools nationwide, including 10 focus cities: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.  The expansion is made possible by a $1 million commitment from NFL Foundation.

The announcement was made by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CEO of GENYOUth Alexis Glick and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2015 NFL Draft Youth Football Clinic in Chicago’s Grant Park.

During 2014 Kickoff, NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 announced a commitment to providing children in elementary schools and after-school programs nationwide with NFL FLAG Essentials Kits enabling kids and communities to “Play 60.”  The kits which include footballs, flag belts, posters and a PE curriculum designed for elementary and middle school students, garnered enthusiasm, reaching 1,800 schools nationwide, resulting in 500,000 kids getting more active, and the demand for NFL FLAG powered by USA Football to be played before, during and after school.

The goal of the partnership between the NFL and Fuel Up to Play 60 is to give children more opportunities to be physically active and to “Play 60” by offering PE teachers and school administrators the equipment, curriculum, training and recognition they need to uplift and support physical education.  This extension of the program provides a million more students across the country with the tools to play NFL FLAG, which combines the strategy of football with the lessons of teamwork, resiliency and respect.

“We want all kids to have the chance to get active and flag football is a fun way to play 60 and learn the fundamentals of football,” said Commissioner Goodell. “We know many children are physically inactive and the critical need in schools and communities for equipment and ways to increase participation in physical education. We want to make this a positive experience by offering NFL FLAG Kits to inspire kids to play football and be active today and in years to come.”

Results from the program’s first year include:

  • 98% of teachers reporting using the Kits in PE class for more than one semester
  • 47% using Kits after school
  • 28% using Kits during recess
  • 21% using Kits weekend activity and/or sporting activities
  • 12% using Kits before school, leading to an increased number of physically activity kids

NFL FLAG provides children of all ages with the opportunity to be active and learn the basics of football in a fun environment. With the tremendous reach of Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation’s largest in-school nutrition and physical activity program, an additional 1,000,000 children in more than 2,500 schools will be able to participate in the coming 2015-16 school year via the new Kits.  The program will culminate with the NFL FLAG National Championships at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

“GENYOUth is proud to support this partnership by bringing this fresh and exciting sport to schools nationwide through our flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60,” said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth. “Flag football is a fun, fast-paced, skills-based and strategy-driven game that inspires more kids to get active. It allows physical education teachers and communities to introduce a new curriculum that has already inspired more physical activity among both boys and girls during and outside of the school day.”

Schools can apply for the Kits starting in early May via the Fuel Up to Play 60 website: www.FuelUpToPlay60.com and will be provided at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year while supplies last.  Additionally, in-person FLAG trainings using the curriculum developed by USA Football and SHAPE America will be held in the 10 NFL markets this fall.


Otha Thornton is president of National PTA.

National PTA Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Safeguard Children’s Data

Otha_Headshot_SMToday, Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 as a means to protect student data.

Technology is a powerful tool for teaching and learning, but at the same time, it is imperative that students’ academic and personal information is protected. It is a top priority of National PTA to safeguard children’s data and ensure that parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how data is collected and used.

National PTA is pleased to see this important topic being brought to the forefront and endorses the introduction of the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015. The association applauds Representatives Messer and Polis for their bipartisan leadership and commitment to safeguard student data and privacy.

We look forward to working with Congress and engaging with our members to ensure that privacy law is updated to reflect today’s technology-dependent world.


Otha Thornton is president of National PTA.

Education Week Recognizes Leadership in Family Engagement

Patricia SpradleyLast month, I had the great fortune to be flown to Washington, DC by Education Week, where I was honored as one of sixteen nationally recognized “LEADERS TO LEARN FROM.” I was so very humbled and honored that family engagement was brought to the forefront of education, by such a prestigious organization. Other leaders were recognized for their work with education technology, extended learning time, student voice, and other important education topics. We were all featured in a special Education Week report and got together in person in Washington to meet and learn from one another. The entire experience was awesome!

Back at home, I work as the chief parent and community engagement officer for the Springfield, Mass. School District. I have the opportunity to work with a phenomenal team that is as passionate about this work as I am. Over the years, we have been able to create a plan that focuses on coordination, collaboration and alignment to ensure that families are afforded the same high quality educational experiences as other educators. This can only happen with strong relationships and intentional emphasis on building parent capacity.

Parents are a student’s first teacher. But it is impossible to expect that they can be effective partners with credentialed educators when they are not provided similar opportunities. Educators must understand the importance of linking student achievement and parent capacity-building if schools are going to make the necessary gains. But in order to effectively do this, we must be willing and able to meet parents where they are; the same way we reach students in the classroom.

When I first started in my role as the chief parent and community engagement officer for the Springfield, Mass. School District, I totally shifted my thinking about how I needed to work with families. More importantly, I was completely energized about how I wanted to work with families.

I started a new initiative called the Springfield Parent Academy, which aims at helping families to help their children do better in school and also helping parents themselves succeed. This approach lets parents – as well as other caregivers – really shine as role models for students. I began establishing and developing authentic relationships with parents and families that I whole-heartedly believe are just as nurturing and compassionate about their kids as I am about mine! This epiphany remains the driving force for the passion that I have for family engagement.

Education Week provided an opportunity for me to reach well beyond the community that I serve. From the report to the event videos, I have heard from many other education leaders that they heard our story of success and want to implement their own versions of the Springfield Parent Academy. I couldn’t be more proud. THANK YOU!


Patricia A. Spradley is the chief parent and community engagement officer in the Springfield, Mass. School District. She was recently recognized by Education Week in their third annual “Leaders To Learn From” special report.

High-Poverty Schools Receive Healthy Meals

shutterstock_245685964Students poised for academic success fuel their minds and bodies with nutritious meals every day—not just on test days. The Community Eligibility Provision, created by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 and now available nationwide, enables high-poverty schools to offer all of their students a free and nutritious breakfast and lunch each school day. Now is the time to see if your school district could benefit from this remarkable opportunity in the 2015-2016 school year.

Thousands of schools—more than 14,000 in fact—and more than 6.5 million students are seeing the educational and health benefits of community eligibility. Offering free breakfast and lunch to the entire student body transforms the school culture, allowing students to enjoy school meals without feeling stigmatized. Schools that implement community eligibility see participation in both breakfast and lunch increase, which means that more children have the energy they need to learn throughout the day.

Community eligibility also benefits schools by reducing administrative burdens. School meal applications are not collected, which reduces administrative costs and frees up staff time. Additionally, increased meal participation allows schools to take advantage of economies of scale resulting in lower cost per meal. Offering meals free to all students also means that schools don’t have to try to collect unpaid fees or cover the cost of meals when families struggle to pay.

To take advantage of this incredible opportunity, keep these dates in mind:

  • Today: Start a conversation about whether or not community eligibility is the right choice for your school or school district. For more information on the provision, check out the Food Research and Action Center’s Community Eligibility Resource Find out which schools and districts in your state have implemented community eligibility or were eligible for the 2014-2015 school year using the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Community Eligibility Database. Use this model presentation to inform others.
  • May 1, 2015: Each state agency will publish a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. Review the list to see which local schools qualify.
  • August 31, 2015: To implement the provision for school year 2015-2016, make sure your school district submits an application no later than August 31, 2015.

Mieka Sanderson is a Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at the Food Research and Action Center where her work primarily focuses on expanding the reach of the School Breakfast Program among low-income youth.

New Resource for Parents on Student Data Privacy

privacy-header-cropTechnology and the Internet have created countless new opportunities for learning. Students can now read about virtually any subject from anywhere and can connect with people and places around the world. Teachers are harnessing the power of the technology to bring curriculum alive and modify instruction to meet the unique needs of every child.

With the advent of increasingly innovative ways to learn, National PTA believes that making learning via technology and the Internet safe for students should be a top priority. Toward the end of 2014, National PTA became involved in identifying best practices for safeguarding and managing student data and ensuring parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how children’s data is collected and used.

As part of its efforts, National PTA has collaborated with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to develop a free, digital guide to help parents understand the laws that protect student data as well as students’ and parents’ rights under the laws.

Among the information provided, the guide answers the following questions:

  • Who has access to personal information about my child?
  • What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and when does it apply to information from students?
  • When do I have the choice to “opt-out” of my child’s information being shared?
  • How do I gain access, make corrections or request deletions to my child’s data?

Schools have always held a wide range of data about children and families. Name, address, names of parents or guardians, date of birth, grades, attendance, disciplinary records, eligibility for lunch programs, special needs and the like are all necessary for basic administration and instruction. Teachers and school officials use this information for lots of reasons, including to assess how well students at a school are progressing, how effective teachers are at teaching, and how well a school performs compared to other schools. State departments of education also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets.

Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ information while keeping this information protected remains paramount.

To download the guide and learn more about privacy rights for students and parents, visit ferpasherpa.org.


Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

Northwoods Elementary is STEAMing ahead!

NorthwoodsElem

On April 16, Northwoods Elementary in Cary, N.C. held their first STEAM Fair. The idea was to take STEM a step further by adding art into the equation. Northwoods’ PTA President, Crystal Hartzell explains, “Most will agree that art is a major key to creativity, and that creativity is the catalyst to innovation. Merging STEM and Arts education could accelerate the innovation and progressive thinking of our students. It is our responsibility to give our future leaders a well-rounded quality education preparing them for the many challenges they will face in their future and that can’t be done by only enriching half of the brain.”

1gfeMore than 70 students created projects at home from one of the STEAM categories: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. They were then displayed during the schools STEAM Fair for the community to see. The evening included hands-on demonstrations by multiple local companies like StarWitness, STEM for Kids, and Vision Martial Arts. As well as representatives from East Cary Middle Schools Coding and Robotics clubs and St. Mary’s Biology Explorer’s Summer Camp. Families were encouraged to get involved, interact with others and have fun. The school’s Title 1 team handed out free math and reading books and games to over 150 students during the event.

The 275+ attendees were also invited to participate in a collaborative art project titled “The Art of Community” with the assistance of Cary Teen Council.  This will be displayed in the front lobby of the school in the coming weeks for Northwoods families and guests to enjoy. The evening was topped off with the attendance of Big Mikes BBQ food truck and Kona Ice truck for dinner and dessert. The Northwoods STEAM Fair was hosted by Northwoods Elementary PTA.

How are your local schools demonstrating STEAM in the students’ curriculum? Leave some comments below!


Crystal Hartzell is the Northwoods Elementary School PTA president.

Bleacher Talk: Taking Action for Active and Healthy Students

This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Action for Healthy Kids, in conjunction with Every Kid Healthy Week taking place in schools nationwide, April 19-25, 2015. View the blog post on The Huffington Post.

Last week I was having a pretty typical conversation at Little League practice. If you’ve sat on a bleacher, you’ve probably had this conversation. It started with, “Who is your son’s teacher?” Like every other time, this conversation included many reasons why I’d love that teacher for my kids someday. But this time I knew the teacher we were talking about — she’s an active board member on our PTA. Each month, she lets us use her classroom for our PTA meetings.

At the meetings, I’ve always smiled to see the exercise balls at students’ desks in lieu of chairs. I never knew the story behind the stability balls — I just know the research: it works! Stability balls help keep attention-challenged kids focused on learning, while strengthening core muscles and improving posture. I figured this teacher must be a health advocate or a believer in the theories of kinesthetic learning.

What I didn’t know is that this teacher partnered with parents to transform her classroom in support of one child. The mom told me when her son joined the class, the teacher didn’t want him to feel different – or alone – when using the stability ball to help him focus on learning. So she used the funds donated by parents at the beginning of the year to purchase enough balls for all of the students. The mom said it’s made a difference — not just for her son — but for the many students who have enjoyed second grade in that classroom ever since.

Stories like this are being told on bleachers nationwide. And that’s what we celebrate during Every Kid Healthy Week (April 19 – 25). Throughout the week, we shine a spotlight on the many ways parents and community members are lending their time, sharing their talents, opening their wallets, and leveraging their personal and professional networks to support one objective — to help schools create active learning environments and increase nutritious options for students.

Here are some great examples of how local PTAs are taking action:

  • At Lafayette Elementary School in Eureka, California, students are buzzing about a bicycle-powered blender that the PTA uses as a classroom incentive for school fundraisers. Students enjoy wheeling their way to delicious, healthy smoothies made of yogurt, orange juice, bananas and frozen fruit.
  • At Charlotte Hill Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, students drink more water during the day thanks to new water bottles. They’re also moving more throughout the day using new equipment such as balls, hula hoops and jump ropes.
  • At Pittsburgh Banksville K-5, Pennsylvania, the PTA educated more than 400 members of its school community at a Healthy Kids Expo. Attendees learned about the concept of energy balance by sampling healthy foods at Energy In stations and then burning energy at Energy Out stations where numerous community organizations featured their exercise opportunities, including hockey, martial arts, yoga and dance.
  • At Rainbow Elementary School in Madison, Alabama, families logged more than 2,300 miles and 79,000 minutes of exercise in Fire Up Your Feet’s “Walk Around the World Challenge.” All registrants received a pedometer to track their progress.
  • At Ridgecrest Elementary School in Lawton, Oklahoma, students are “charmed” into making healthier choices. They earn necklace and bracelet charms for drinking water every day. Students also earn charms for being part of the classroom that eats the most fruits and vegetables.
  • At Irving Park Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina, more than 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. A major concern for the school’s PTA was access to nutritious foods, so they built two school gardens (K-2 and 3-5). Each of the 34 classrooms in the school had a dedicated garden bed, and teachers used common core-aligned lessons to engage students in the planting, tending and harvesting of vegetables. They educated families about the easy ways to grow healthy vegetables and even have a waiting list of families who want to help tend the gardens.

Whether Every Kid Healthy Week or any time of year, now is the perfect time to start making your child’s school a healthier, more active place to learn. How do you begin? Think about your child’s needs first. Talk with the teacher about the ways you can contribute to a more active classroom environment or healthier choices for celebrations. Volunteer for PTA, the school advisory committee, or the school wellness council and develop ways to educate families about the link between health and learning. Walk through the school — cafeteria, classrooms, gymnasium, playground, surrounding neighborhood — with an eye on what you could do to make it better for your child. When you create a healthier learning environment for one child, every child benefits.


Mary Pat King, MS is the Director of Programs & Partnerships, National PTA. She serves as the Legislative & Advocacy Chair at Cypress Woods Elementary School PTA in Palm Harbor, FL. She is the mom of Mason (first grade) and Jenna Bea (Pre-K).

Milton High School is All in for our Students

Milton High School PTSA is committed to excellence. Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Milton High School’s PTSA made a commitment to becoming a National PTA School of Excellence by strengthening our programs relative to our focus area goal from the National PTA School of Excellence Program as “Ensure Health & Safety of Students”, with the objective to support students’ emotional and mental well-being through our programs and events.

Milton PTSA student and parent volunteers are on hand for our orientation session.

Milton PTSA student and parent volunteers are on hand for our orientation session.

To accomplish this goal, we offer information, education, support and guidance for the growing community concerns over our teens’ mental health. Recognizing that the teen years are wrought with internal and external stressors, we provided a forum in the fall to discuss the topic via our Milton Mom’s and Dad’s luncheon featuring outside speaker John Trautwein of The Will to Live Foundation. During the second semester, Dr. Daniel Falor spoke to us about “Hormones, Brain Chemistry, and Depression in Teens”. One of our business partners, Whole Foods, hosted this event in memory of an employee/former MHS student and provided a demonstration of healthy nontoxic snack solutions suitable for the teen years. We welcomed all families within the community, including Milton parents as well as parents from other area high schools.

Milton students test their texting and driving skills on driving simulators during a "Don't Text and Drive" event running concurrently with AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign.

Milton students test their texting and driving skills on driving simulators during a “Don’t Text and Drive” event running concurrently with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign.

We also shared power by promoting and supporting MHS Kindness Week, a student initiative to encourage random acts of kindness in the MHS community. Our support of finals week included a social media blast to encourage parents to text their student MHSWLVU and #RepTheM, striving to bolster their confidence and ease their stress over testing.

Our goal related to Speaking up for Every Child was to increase Safe Home Pledge rates by giving parents an opportunity to pledge their support. The pledge focuses on the prevention of underage drinking and drug use, with the parents pledging to provide a well-supervised environment that will combat possible occurrences of drug or alcohol use in their home. The pledge is printed on the backside of all bilingual PTSA membership forms and is available on the Milton High School and PTSA websites. All families are encouraged to sign the pledge, and those families are then listed on the PTSA website in the Safe Home Pledge page. Due to our efforts at communicating the importance of the Safe Home Pledge, we successfully recruited over 400 families to sign the Safe Home this year.

In addition to Supporting Student Success outside the academic realm, our family involvement committee hosted a “Don’t Text and Drive” event concurrent with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. Two driving simulators were staged in the cafeteria during all lunches and the students tested their texting and driving skills. The computer software used with the driving simulators reinforced to students that texting and driving is indeed dangerous. As a result, students pledged their commitment to not text and drive on a large banner that was prominently displayed in the hallway. [Read more…]

Senate Education Committee Passes Every Child Achieves Act

Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed the Every Child Achieves Act, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB). This is another step toward reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB. National PTA is pleased to see movement on this important piece of legislation. Comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB is National PTA’s top legislative priority this Congress.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) praised his colleagues and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for their hard work and bipartisanship during the three day markup of the bill. The bill will now go to the floor of the U.S. Senate where all Senators will be able to debate and have the opportunity to amendment the bill. We are hearing that the bill could be brought to the floor in mid-May or June.

National PTA and Colorado PTA worked with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to introduce an amendment that would create a program to authorize Statewide Family Engagement Centers as a replacement to Parent Information and Resource Centers, which were eliminated in the bill. Senator Bennet offered his amendment but then withdrew it. This was done for strategic reasons, and the Senator plans to offer it again on the Senate floor. National PTA seeks to strengthen the family engagement provisions in the bill and will be asking PTA advocates to reach out to their Senators to ensure that the Every Child Achieves Act has specific improvements that prioritize capacity building for the implementation of systemic and sustainable family engagement practices that increase student achievement.

During the markup, several amendments passed that National PTA supported, including the elementary and secondary school counseling program; the Javits gifted and talented program; the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which would provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours; and an amendment that would provide resources to initiate, expand and improve physical education programs in schools. These amendments provide needed resources and supports to students and schools and are aligned with PTA’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda.

Another PTA-supported amendment that passed would enable states and school districts to conduct audits of their testing systems to reduce low-quality, misaligned and redundant tests.

National PTA is also pleased to see the passage of an education technology amendment that would foster innovative technology initiatives in classrooms and schools and provide professional development for educators as well as a grant program that would improve coordination, quality and access to early learning opportunities for children and families.

We are thankful that no public or private school portability or voucher amendments passed in Committee; however, both Senators Alexander and Scott (R-SC) vowed to introduce portability amendments on the Senate floor.

We will need PTA advocates to gear up for the action on the Senate floor to strengthen family engagement provisions and ensure that every child has the resources and support he/she needs to reach his/her full potential.

Stay tuned for more updates on the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB through the One Voice Blog and by following @NationalPTA on Twitter.


Jacki Ball is the director of government affairs at National PTA. Follow her on Twitter at @balljacki.

Announcing the 2015 @AXA Achievement Scholarship Winners

G35165_2015_AXA_Achievement_Scholarship_winner_Promo_Box_v5.fwWe are delighted to announce the winners of the 2015 AXA Achievementsm Scholarship!   They’re a remarkable group of young people, and AXA is proud to help them take the next step toward college.  As in previous years, 52 students – one from each state, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico – have been awarded college scholarships of $10,000. Of those 52 winners, 10 students have been chosen as national winners and will receive an additional $15,000 scholarship award.

The scholarship winners – – known as AXA Achievers – – have all accomplished something exceptional outside of the classroom.  Here are just a few examples of their impressive achievements:

Founded “Limbitless,” a non-profit organization that uses 3D printing technology to provide underprivileged youth with affordable prosthetics.

  • Created a computer science program to teach middle school girls about programming, with the goal of increasing female representation in STEM [science, technology, education & math] fields.
  • As a testicular cancer survivor, launched “Check2Campaign” to encourage male athletes to request a testicular exam during their sports physicals.
  • Developed a safe, accurate and low-cost way to detect pathogenic bacteria in liquids such as wastewater.  The project is designed to potentially help prevent thousands of pathogen-based illnesses per year.
  • Launched “Heads-Up Concussion Awareness.”  Using information from the Center for Disease Control, our AXA Achiever taught athletes the signs, symptoms, and proper treatment of concussions, raising awareness in the community.

Be sure to watch the videos to hear the winners describe their achievements and express what the AXA Achievement Scholarship has meant to them.  We know you’ll be impressed!

The AXA Foundation has awarded over $25 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 students since the program began in 2003, making AXA one of the nation’s largest corporate providers of scholarships.  Equally important, AXA Achievement is a resource for advice. Paying for college is a huge challenge for families; making the right decisions is crucial. Please visit the Education funding section online, a great source of comprehensive information on planning for and financing college.


The AXA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AXA US, is the proud sponsor of PTA’s Take Your Family to School Week. Its signature program, AXA Achievement, helps students and parents take the next step toward college. The AXA Foundation has been a proud National PTA sponsor since 2005.