Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

April 13, 2018
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


Rockland County's Physical Activity Awareness Day Awards

NEW CITY, NY -- Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announce the schools with exceptional participation in March Forward 2018, Rockland's 6th annual school-based physical activity awareness day. Created and overseen by the Rockland County School Health and Wellness Coalition, March Forward raises awareness among educators and students of the importance of physical activity for learning readiness and personal wellbeing.

During March Forward, teachers engage students in physically active "brain breaks" or use physical activity as part of a lesson, as well as promote the March Forward messages:

  • Physical activity helps us do better in school.
  • Physical activity helps us look and feel our best.
  • Being physically active is a great way to make friends.
  • Be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

"Many studies show that even small amounts of physical activity in the classroom can help students get their recommended 60 minutes of activity a day while improving academic skills such as cooperation, memory and attention," said Dr. Ruppert. This message seems to have reached many Rockland teachers. From the data collected about March Forward, we learned that 83% of participating teachers used physical activity in the classroom this school year with almost 80% of those teachers using it daily or several times per week. As one teacher explained, "Movement helps my students learn."

This year, 223 teachers from 30 schools representing grades kindergarten through high school submitted a participation survey which provided a "snapshot" of how they used physical activity in the classroom that day. Based on the number of classroom teachers in a school, special recognition is being given to schools where at least 75% of the teachers participated. This year, special recognition goes to Lime Kiln Elementary School in the East Ramapo Central School District where 91% of classroom teachers submitted surveys describing how they used physical activity in the classroom to promote health and learning. Honorable mention goes to Kakiat STEAM Academy and Chestnut Ridge Middle School, also in the East Ramapo Central School District, for achieving 71% and 73% teacher participation, respectively.

"I spent years coaching young people in our community and I understand how important it is to be physically active," said County Executive Day. "We congratulate these schools and all the schools and teachers who participated in March Forward 2018. We look forward to honoring your efforts again next year!"

Teachers who don't already use physical activity in the classroom often say they are concerned that a brain break will take up too much time and interrupt the lesson. The March Forward 2018 data showed the opposite to be true with 84% reporting being able to achieve their academic goals. Additionally, more than 3 out of 4 teachers (78%) observed improved student behaviors following physical activity, such as being more focused, relaxed and engaged. Teachers who guided students in physically active "brain breaks" got kids up and moving for one to five minutes at the beginning, middle, or end of class with stretching, exercises at their desks or with an internet-based video such as those found on GoNoodle. A 6th grade teacher offers these encouraging words to teachers uncertain about using physical activity, "We do it daily – improves student learning."

Teachers can get ideas for physical activity breaks and find articles and videos on physical activity in the classroom on the March Forward website

For more information, contact the Department of Health's School Health Coordinator and facilitator for the School Coalition, Carrie Steindorff, at 845-364-2360, or