New youth program combines physical education with global learning

Fast food giant McDonald’s kicked off its new ‘Passport to Play’ program Sept. 13.

The program seeks to motivate children to be more active in unique and educational ways during grade school physical education classes.

With ‘Passport to Play,’ children will engage in playground games and physical activities from around the world, learning more about the culture and country where the activities originate.

‘Passport to Play’ will launch in 31,000 U.S. schools, and will include a national tour from Sept. 13 through Oct. 7 at more than 90 schools. The program is expected to reach seven million school children this year.

The program received endorsements from 327 school districts across the country, including the Chicago Public Schools. The program is designed for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade physical education teachers.

Organizers for the program specifically wanted to target this age group since most attitudes regarding nutrition are adopted during this period of their development.

Their are a variety of ways in which teachers can assimilate program’s activities into their lesson plans, so it’s up to the instructor to formulate a lesson plan that works best for them.

Some games can be spread over many classes, while others can be taught in a single class. A world map, representing the countries from which the activities originated, is hung visibly in the school gym before the actual classes begin to pique the students’ interest.

The children get to vote on the first leg of their global journey, heightening their excitement and interest in learning about those countries, as well as exercising.

The curriculum includes activities from 15 countries including Australia, Congo, France, Holland, India and Thailand, among others. Among the activities are: Piovra, a game that puts a new spin on tag, from Italy. Equilibrium, a game Ancient Egyptians used to develop balance and coordination skills, and Boomerang Golf, an Australian game which is played just like it sounds.

The program was developed by McDonald’s and representatives of the Active Lifestyles Initiative, in partnership with Kaleidoscope Education Support Group, a company specializing in experiential learning programs.

‘Passport to Play’ supports student learning as defined in the National Standards for Physical Education and is supported by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE).

Elementary school physical educators and district curriculum directors provided additional input and feedback.

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