Let’s Move Pittsburgh: Celebrating Champion Schools

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on www.letsmove.gov. To view the original post, click here.

Posted by Erin Saltmarsh, Program Assistant, Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on August 13, 2014

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens does a lot of work with area schools. From conducting field trips to teacher trainings to the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, we reach a lot of students and educators each year. Let’s Move! Pittsburgh, a program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is working to take this work out into the community to positively impact children’s health.

Let’s Move! Pittsburgh and Phipps are partnering with area schools by inspiring and celebrating champions committed to promoting healthy food choices and increased physical activity for local students. Children spend a large percentage of their time in school, presenting us with a great opportunity to impact their well-being. To this end, the Champion Schools Award program, supported by Giant Eagle, recently solicited applications from area schools, as well as organizations working within these districts, for both seed grants to fund new projects and awards to acknowledge existing efforts to foster healthy lifestyles.


Young explorers learn about building healthy lifestyles at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. (Photo by Cory Doman)

Young explorers learn about building healthy lifestyles at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. (Photo by Cory Doman)


As a result of this program, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh was able to provide resources and funding to 21 schools in Allegheny County that will implement programs and projects during the 2014-2015 school year related to the following themes: Bag the Junk—Increasing Healthy Food and Nutritional Education in Schools, Getting Kids Moving, and Inspiring Kids to Grow and Cook Food. Awards range from $500-$1,500, with priority given to public, charter and private preschool and elementary schools. To ensure success, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh offered resources, project examples and networking opportunities to assist with the development of programs that will have a measurable impact.

“As part of the Champion Schools Award program, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh challenged local educators to increase student access to healthy foods, develop opportunities for kids to be physically active, and incorporate cooking and gardening activities into the school environment,” says Hannah E. Hardy, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh director of programming and operations. “The response was wonderful, and we are really excited and inspired by all of the health-promoting projects we are now pleased to support.”

Want to make schools healthier? Here are some ideas:

  • Does your school have a wellness council? Consider joining or starting one!
  • Start a healthy fundraiser at your school.
  • Assemble a team to put on a health expo for families.

For more information about upcoming events and ways that you can make schools healthier, visit Let’s Move! Pittsburgh at letsmovepittsburgh.org or send an email to info@letsmovepittsburgh.org.

Posted in Health, Let's Move! Museums & Gardens | Leave a comment

Adults Celebrate Learning with Stories About Literacy

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Officer

Being able to read and write is something that most of us take for granted. But, for 32 million Americans, this is not the case. Many who lack these skills don’t know where to look for help. Some find out about assistance through word of mouth from friends, others see advertisements that have been placed in their community by libraries and literacy providers. Once they do locate assistance, their lives are changed for the better.

In Oklahoma, the Department of Libraries works with the Literacy Resource Office to help adults obtain these skills. Their collaborative works resulted in a publication called “Celebrating the Journey,“ a compilation of the writings of the adult learners who received instruction in reading and writing. Each learner was invited to submit an original story of up to 300 words, and tutors or program representatives were asked to review the writing for editing. The tutors assist with correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

The latest issue, volume 8, contains 99 stories from 16 library and community-based literacy programs and adult learning centers. There are many stories of hope and inspiration like that of Steve Hohler, whose story, “New Confidence,” gives you a real sense of the challenges you face when you can’t to read.  He received his training through the Miami Public Library Literacy Program. As he says in the story, “I can read the words to the hymns at church. I used be so self-conscious about this, but I don’t have to fake this anymore. You can hear me sing out, not like I used to, mumbling or using other words.”

Sister Maria D. UgbeThe Bartleville Public Library provided training for Sister Maria D. Ugbe, an immigrant who arrived here from Nigeria eight years ago, and who hopes to become a U.S. citizen. She wrote in her story, “My Companion Word: Coraggio,” ’Life is lived by courage. Each one of us sees the world through a unique lens. Unfortunately, that is why not all can survive. We need to be there for one another to have coraggio (courage) and not give up

Authors will be attending their book signing on September 21 at the Fall Literacy Conference held in Norman and hosted by the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition. If you would like to read more from this publication click here to be inspired.

Posted in Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies, Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational | Leave a comment

Integrating Libraries and Museums in State-Level Early Learning Strategies

Photo of Susan HildrethBy Susan H. Hildreth
Director, IMLS

More than 400 museum, library and early childhood experts registered to attend a webinar on “Expanding the Reach of Early Learning and Development Systems for Libraries and Museums.” This was another important milestone in our work to encourage greater and more intentional collaboration among these groups. It was part of our partnership work with the BUILD Initiative.

The BUILD Initiative was launched in May 2002 by a consortium of private foundations. Its aim is to stimulate public investments in early learning and help coordinate programs, policies, and services for young children that often operate in insolation and without enough resources to meet critical needs.

Museum and library leaders share the desire of early childhood leaders to create high quality learning opportunities for young children. Many state-level efforts to support young children’s growth and development focus narrowly on formal institutions, such as preschools and public health systems. But children live in families, and their lives are really shaped by family and community. Museums and libraries serve families and are valuable community assets.

For the past few years, the Institute of Museum and Library Services worked intensively with partners at the federal and national level and through grants to local institutions for early education. With the BUILD Initiative, we will examine how to better integrate libraries and museums into state systems.

Our project will start with five pilot states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In each state, BUILD will help form a team that includes early learning leaders with a deep understanding of state program standards (QRIS), early learning standards (birth to 5), and the ways that early childhood plans, policies and programs operate, as well as representatives from state library agencies, public libraries, and museums. Teams may also include local community leaders with expertise in important early childhood issues such as literacy or obesity.

While some states have included museums and libraries at the heart of their early childhood systems work, most have not. While many museums and libraries have engaged in exemplary early learning activities, most have not aligned with state systems-building efforts. Our collaboration with BUILD over the coming year will create connections between museums and libraries and early childhood systems builders to better support young children.

I hope you will follow this effort and let us know how your library or museum is engaging at the state level to improve the quality of early learning experiences for children and their families.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Director's Messages, Early Learning, Education Support, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy) | Leave a comment