Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Rachel Deliz, Program Coordinator of MUVE, a dance fitness program that is currently working in public & private schools, as well as community organizations. Their goal is to promote a fun fit lifestyle with games of leadership and teamwork that get the heart pumping and encourage playful interaction with everyone.

by Rachel Deliz and Maggie Kunkel

Count On Me02Despite Physical Educations significance in the school day, the growing focus on standardized test scores leave teachers scrambling for time, and physical activity on the back- burner. When referring to test scores precedence over physical education, Dr. Gregory D. Myer remarked, ‘We’re really going backwards. Neurocognitive development is associated with exercise and can benefit from exercise’. Myer from the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, believes that schools need to encourage activities that develop motor skills, socialization & fun, and that even ‘short, interval-like bursts of activity’ reduce sports-related injuries and promote health’.

Physical Education and academics support one another; children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than those who are sedentary. Play is fundamental to children’s development, promoting social interaction, exploration and creativity. Despite schedule and funding constrictions, a Honolulu School is creatively finding ways to squeeze a little more fitness into the school day. Palolo Elementary School has teamed up with MUVE Inc. to provide an alternative exercise option, designed to include all students.
Research data indicating the pivotal role of fun fitness, is no surprise to MUVE. The spontaneous exercise practice was founded in 1998 by Maggie Kunkel, and enjoys a following reaching from toddlers to seniors and is fit for everyone, no matter their physical shape.

Moving with all our friends
School MUVE, known for 45-60 minute extracurricular sessions for public & private schools, now also offers short energetic dance sessions to rejuvenate the whole student body during the school day. MUVE’s pilot program at Palolo Elementary School includes a weekly session, where MUVE teachers lead two dance sessions with 120+ students for a 15 minute fitness break. The whole student body is involved, first Kindergarten to 2nd Grade, then all the kids from 3rd-5th Grade take the floor.
Students play with and connect with kids from other classrooms and grades, boosting the social network across the campus. MUVE’s lessons eliminate competitive activities, where everyone strives to be the fastest, best etc. in exchange for playful inclusive exercise that promotes creativity and teamwork.

Maggie Kunkel of MUVE

Regular extracurricular programs do integrate more fitness into the day, but unfortunately
not all students have the resources to participate. This Pilot MUVE program has been a donation to Palolo Elementary School, making it possible to experience dance fitness with the entire school population, all students included. Principal Holly Kiyonaga of Palolo Elementary School says our students MUVE to be creative & self-expressive; MUVE to cooperate & team-build; MUVE to be healthy & fit; and, MUVE to have fun.

Each Wednesday, the students anxiously await for their instructors Ms. Maggie and Ms. Rachel.” MUVE Teachers deliver an exercise package of lessons that aim to support the growth of physical and social skills through spontaneous community dance. There is no right or wrong step, but guided free movement with friends. Rachel Deliz, Program Coordinator of MUVE stated “First off, we have fun. We teach dance and fitness practices that will keep them strong, fight illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and to enjoy their lives together. This is “out-of-the box thinking” and kids get to be creative confident risk takers.”. Returning for its second year, MUVE offers its classes to Palolo Elementary for free, ensuring that every child has this opportunity.

Geronimo 02Treasure Trove of FREE Resources On-Line The Surgeon General recommends children should engage in 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, but only 3.8% of elementary schools provide daily PE. Each year, more primary teachers are being asked to deliver Physical Education lessons to their students, as extracurricular subjects continue to be cut. A study commissioned by Virgin Active, found that although 88% of primary teachers recognize that PE is as important as the other topics, many lack confidence when
it comes to delivering lessons. Aware of the disadvantage many educators experience when preparing to instruct outside of their field, Honolulu organization MUVE, has built a website of resources easy enough for anyone to deliver.

Maggie Kunkel, creator of MUVE, has gifted her complete dance fitness system to interested parties. At www.muve.org, all lessons, games, and educational resources are completely FREE for anyone to utilize with their group. The website is a treasure trove with lesson plans and meticulous instructions on how to implements the activities.

Rachel Deliz of MUVE

It gives teachers and parents the tools to instigate physical activity, as short activity breaks or full fledged dance-exercise lessons. There are dance-alongs (~ 3 minutes) and dancing games that can move even a super large group with minimal set-up. Marielle Schricker, 5th Grade Teacher at Palolo Elementary School has been inspired to incorporate MUVE games for the classroom, ‘Students are more willing to join in groups with other students who aren’t their regular friends. It’s been positive. I’ve gained ideas of activities I could use for classroom bonding’.

With MUVE’s recent step toward becoming a non-profit organization, it hopes to raise funds through grants enabling more MUVE classes and Professional Development Workshops to schools and teachers in Hawaii and throughout the world.
Trost S. Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance. A Research Brief. Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Summer 2009.

Westervelt, E. Learning to Move, Moving to Learn: The Benefits of PE. nprED. March 25,