When I catch up with Brooke Sydnor Curran, she excitedly shares, “We just measured 150 pairs of feet and are about to go buy athletic shoes!” Why would anyone need that many pairs of shoes? You may have heard of RunningBrooke, an organization she started 14 years ago. She changed the name to Move2Learn about 18 months ago to better reflect their work -– synonymous with how movement supports learning, sparking engagement and focus.
Every day, this organization works with Alexandria’s public school educators and its students in all 18 schools, K-12, to level the learning field by using movement to transform learning. Studies show that the more students are active throughout the day, the better they feel and learn. Plus, it improves behavior and attendance. Move2Learn’s main programming revolves around active seating, and social, emotional and academic learning inside and outside the classroom.
For Brooke, movement and learning is very personal. As a student in school her nickname was ‘mosquito’ because she couldn't sit still. “I was always being sent to the principal’s office, they didn’t get that I just needed to move. I began internalizing it…it was my fault,” she shares. “That’s why I started this, I’m passionate about seeing our city and its students thrive. I was in a position to do so, if not me, then who?”
What makes this organization so special? Their programs are free and, “it’s at the school itself so there are no transportation barriers. We support a teacher's passion for movement…so for some it may be walking, running or yoga…at Hammond, it’s Boxercise.”
Unfortunately, PE just doesn’t happen as much as it should. And that’s why, this fall Move2Learn is overseeing 20 active programs. The times vary depending on each teacher’s schedule, some may be an early morning walking club like the one at ACHS, or a running club, which also helps get kids to school on time. Others, like a yoga class may be held in the middle of the day, or after-school.
Teachers are paid a stipend, so they are equipped with whatever they may need for the class, including compensation for their time, and “we will never say no to any student who wants to participate, while we’re aware there are students who wouldn’t be able to attend without the support,” Brooke explains.
There are also programs that happen inside the classroom. “We have 180-plus active seating packages across ACPS. Each package costs us about $1000 to fulfill, and includes stationary bikes, accordion stools…they literally look like accordions, and replace traditional seats. There are also under desk cycles which are proving to be the most popular.” It really depends on what the teachers prefer. “These are things that enable a student to stay put in the classroom. This is what I needed as a kid to get my extra energy out, it would have kept me there – and out of the principal’s office. Being able to enable this brain-body connection in kids is a big thing.”
At ACPS, teachers need things beyond traditional items, and they also have enough on their plates. With Move2Learn, they don’t need to worry about putting the equipment together. “We don’t just drop it off – we build it.”
I support this organization because they do what they say they’re going to do and continue to do what they say they’re going to do. This is a journey for our schools, the city and our community to learn and improve together, and I’m happy to be part of it. But these programs are only possible through the generous support of our community, and that’s why when Brooke approached me, I said, “absolutely!”
Through our “Good. Works. Wednesday” efforts, Red Barn Mercantile and Penny Post will donate 20 percent of all non-custom purchases made every Wednesday in October. We hope you’ll swing by to shop our wares, from beautiful home decor to creative stationery and office supplies. And BONUS: if you bring 2 new pairs of athletic socks to either store to donate, you’ll receive an additional ten percent off your purchase.
Learn more about the incredible work Move2Learn is doing for our community. And I hope to see you at our stores every Wednesday this October with some athletic socks in hand!