Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Combating Decreasing Physical Activity in Youth by Developing Intrinsic Motivation

According* to Journal of the American Medical Association article issued on July 16, 2008, the measured physical activity decreased significantly in youth between the ages of 9 and 15 years.

We know all too well that this trend of decreasing physical activity only further increases the negative impact of bad health (both mental and physical) of youth to be successful in school. Further more, the researchers forecast that this trend indicates a lifetime of bad health for these youth.

Providing more minutes within the school schedule for physical activity is certainly a necessity. And it is great to see that more and more states are mandating and embracing more time per day and week.

But, as any physical educator will tell you, just because time is schedule, equipment is purchased and students are required to participate, does not mean they will:
  • Challenge themselves.
  • Stretch past their perceived boundaries.
  • Increase their enjoyment
  • Experience success.
  • Seek opportunities for physical activity on their own.
  • Continue physical activity into young adulthood and adulthood.

In other words, intrinsic motivation!

In essence, the question I hear over and over again from educators is do we engage kids who don't participate or who have previously been unsuccessful with physical activities.

At Project Adventure, we've been struggling with that question as well. We know from our 37 years of history that students who have difficulty engaging in traditional programs and activities LOVE adventure. That they challenge themselves, build confidence, they accomplish things they never dreamt possible. We know that peer support inherent in adventure programming supports students to be successful and continue showing up.

We knew that if we could shape fitness activities into an adventure-based framework...we'd have a winner. And that's what we've done with Achieving Fitness.

Now we are professing that you only need Achieving Fitness to solve all the problems of inactivity, but we do know is that physical educators and fitness professionals who have tried Achieving Fitness agree that it is a great first step to getting youth involved in traditional fitness activities in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

Reflections from a physical educator who took part in PA's Achieving Fitness workshop:

"I think the two most important things I learned as a result of attending were: how to apply adventure theory to what I teach, and how to change my teaching to promote intrinsic motivation.

Embarrassingly, I had believed that intrinsic motivation belonged only to the highest caliber athlete or scholar. However, in our discussion of the characteristics of intrinsic motivation:

  • creates challenge,
  • provokes curiosity,
  • allows for choice,
  • promotes creativity.

I realized that I see moments of intrinsic motivation every day in my classes, but just not all the time. Also from having been a teacher for a number of years and also from having been a mom and watching my son, I mused over the idea that intrinsically motivated students are rarely behavior problems in the gym and so why not try to teach using activities that would be intrinsically motivating.

The problem I still see is that of differentiated instruction. For every student that comes into the gym who has had a multitude of physical experiences, another comes in shyly, and who participates marginally. A common attitude among lower elementary students is that they show signs of low self esteem around sport activities with which they have little experience.

My assumption was that they were coming into the gym feeling like it was the right place to be if you didn’t know how to play a sport. Rather, they often come in with the idea that everyone else will be better than them and there is the occasional student who just “freezes up” about trying something they may not be very good at. I liked how the Project Adventure activities for fitness would get kids moving no matter what their ability level because they wouldn’t have preconceived notions about the activity".

Let us know what you think?

(*Philip R. Nader; Robert H. Bradley; Renate M. Houts; Susan L. McRitchie; Marion O'BrienJAMA. 2008;300(3):295-305.)

Developing Respectful Communities in Schools and Agencies - NYC

Join Project Adventure's Metro New York City Advisory Board and The Children's Aid Society on October 2 at Alley Pond Adventure for a day of learning, sharing and experiencing!

Who should attend: Administrators, program directors, curriculum coordinators, educators, counselors and anyone who strives to support positive development of children and youth.

What to expect: Opening remarks of welcome from Dr. Irving Hamer, NYC Advisory Board and C. Warren "Pete" Moses, CEO of The Children's Aid Society.

Keynote address by Jane Panicucci, Vice President of PA and lead creator of PA's model for enhancing school culture and climate and PA's Coordinated School Health approach for increasing social and emotional competency, physical activity and health-related fitness.

A variety of concurrent sessions by greater NYC professionals who utilize the researched methodology and core components of PA's programming in their own environments to engage children and youth, help them move past their perceived limitations and enhance program outcomes.

Networking lunch and resource filled bookstore.

Demonstration and opportunity to participate on Alley Pond's state-of-art challenge course designed and installed by Project Adventure. The challenge course is one of many tools that can be used in a solid adventure education program.

Registration is limited to the 100. Preregistration is required.

Questions? 1-800-468-8898 x4638 or!

A Vision for Leadership - St. Martin's Episcopal School Implementation

Dr. Jeffrey Pratt Beedy, the recently appointed Headmaster at St. Martin’s has a vision for the future that includes leadership. Leadership, according to Beedy, is “not just a title but is the ability to inspire others to a common goal….and emerges at every level of society.”

Leadership development tools at St. Martins include: superior academics, revamped athletic programming, cutting-edge curricular research in the Coatney Leadership Center and project-based leadership built around Project Adventure’s methodology.

Beedy was originally introduced to Project Adventure in 1997 while at Harvard University. He began using PA's researched methodology in his own, widely implemented program, Sports PLUS. The significant relationship between PA and Sports PLUS is the focus on developing life skills such as respect, teamwork, conflict resolution and leadership through activities with outcomes that transfer to the classroom, school, home and community.

Project Adventure’s role at St. Martin’s includes consulting, training and curriculum development. The anticipated outcomes are:

-Development of social-emotional leadership skills in all students and staff in defined and measurable ways by the year 2010-11.
-Development of a steering team for the program composed of staff and students who will be responsible for the overall implementation of the leadership program.
-Development of a k-12 unified leadership curricular plan that includes modules for physical education, athletic team coaching, counseling, classroom management, service learning and selected integrated academic projects.
-Installation of an indoor and outdoor challenge course for the physical education curriculum.
-Design and implementation of an evaluation plan for both process evaluation and professional research outcomes.

Dick Prouty, Executive Director for Project Adventure, Inc. is the lead consultant for the St. Martin’s project. Working closely with Prouty are Larry Childs, Senior School Specialist, Renee Cavaluzzi, Physical Education, Health and Fitness Trainer and Jane Panicucci, Chief Operating Officer. Consulting on the evaluation is Noe Medina of Education Policy Research.

For more information on bringing Project Adventure's researched methodolgy to your program, school, agency or organization, contact us today at or 1-978-524-4554.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prince Edward County Public Schools - Creating Respectful School Communities

Project Adventure, Inc. (PA) is pleased to announce that Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) in Farmville, VA has joined a growing list of schools and agencies nation-wide using PA’s researched methodology to enhance learning and behavioral outcomes for students.

Beginning with an all-day professional development session for Superintendent Patricia Watkin’s leadership team in July, PECPS will be embarking on a whole-school climate and culture change that will result in:

Common behavioral norms and expectations that foster greater individual accountability for behavior and academic achievement and create a positive learning environment at PECPS.

Experiential and adventure-based skills to help educators create lessons that engage all learners.

Enhanced relationships between students, educators, administration, families and community.

A continuum of programs that support student success within the PECPS campus and reduce out-of-school placements, dropping out and/or out-of-school suspension or expulsion.

Physical Education, Health and Fitness programming that focuses on social and emotional competency, motor skill development and health-related fitness for all students.

Training will begin at the start of the school year with on-going training and consultation throughout the year. Evaluation of the implementation will be conducted jointly between Project Adventure and Prince Edward County Public Schools.

Project Adventure, Inc. ( is a non-profit organization founded in 1971. Headquartered in Massachusetts and Georgia, PA has trained and consulted with schools and agencies across the US and worked internationally as well.

The core methodology, which PA has termed Adventure Education, has been the core theme of PA’s own residential and alternative school programs in Newton County Georgia since the early 1980s.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rationale and Theory Behind Experiential Ed

"Project Adventure has given me the rationale and theory behind experiential learning",
Ana Silva, Principal, Ramona Elementary, Ysleta ISD - a Raise Your Hand Texas Principal.

Ana was selected from 400 applicants to Raise Your Hand Texas, a bi-partisan group that funds educational leadership opportunities for education, to attend the Harvard Principal Institute. RYHT sent 35 people to the week long leadership institute. To see a full list of attendees funded by RYHT click on this link.

Didn't get to go to The Principal Center, but want to learn about the rationale and theory behind experiential learning? Read one of these greatadventure ed classics:

Adventure in the Classroom: Using Adventure to Strengthen Learning and Build a Community of Life-Long Learners By Mary Henton

A book for teachers, curriculum developers, administrators, kindergarten through college-age students and teachers of teachers. Explores the core concepts of adventure and how they can be used in the classroom. The premise is that adventure can enhance learning in all academic curricula-math, science, language, etc. Includes sample curriculum and 16 pages of activities.

J71435 $31.00 1996. 231pp. ISBN: 0-7872-2459-6

Islands of Healing: A Guide to Adventure Based Counseling

by Jim Schoel, Dick Prouty and Paul RadcliffeAudience: Counselors, teachers and therapists, can be adapted for almost any group work

Presents the theory and practice of Adventure Based Counseling which combines elements of experiential learning, outdoor education and group counseling techniques
Includes Theory: a discussion of the Adventure Wave, sequencing, briefing, goal setting, leading, debriefing and Practice: sample applications of ABC in schools, hospitals and treatment facilities and programs for court-referred youth. No activities.
J71429 $32.00

Journey Toward the Caring Classroom, Expanded Edition: Using Adventure to Create Community in the Classroom and Beyond By Laurie Frank

Journey Toward the Caring Classroom describes a learning environment that begins with the idea of a classroom as community. A foundational perspective of adventure and experiential education is basic to this curriculum that offers accessible activities, reflection opportunities, life skills and academic applications for a variety of age levels.
Groups develop and work through a developmental sequence that helps create a map for community building. Frank presents the issues, skills and activities pertinent to any given phase in the process and includes suggestions for how to facilitate the process and begin a program of your own.

ISBN# 1-885473-60-5J71526 $39.95