Three Cheers for Apple Corps Member, Eileen!

Last week Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! physical activity and healthy eating initiative recognized the Highline Public School District, just southwest of Seattle, for their outstanding work in building healthy communities that serve their children and youth in the area!

Check out the article!

Ms. Eileen playing ball with her students on a beautiful Seattle day!

Ms. Eileen playing ball with her students on a beautiful Seattle day!

With Apple Corps member, Eileen Schuetz serving as the Active Play Coordinator at two sites within the Highline School District we want to applaud all her hard work over this past year! Eileen facilitates cooperative play at White Center Heights Elementary School throughout the school day then quickly hops over to the Boys and Girls Club down the street to continue to lead and coach team games and sports in after school and evening programs. Eileen also dedicates many of her weekends to coaching in the non-competitive basketball and soccer leagues (her basketball team went undefeated all season!). As part of the after school programs, healthy dinners are provided to attending youth.

Thank you, Eileen for all your hard work and contribution to the accolades Highline received!


Fitness Can Be Fun And Exciting For Everyone

Hi there, my name is Amal and I am the Active Play Coordinator with Apple Corps, which is through King County Food and Fitness Initiative. My work is focused in Southwest Seattle in the Delridge and White Center Elementary Schools. I spend most of my time out on the playground playing and having so much fun with the kids. I learn that kids love to be part of activities that adults participate in because it ensures them that it is safe and a positive environment for them to have fun.  Having active adult’s present out on the playground gives a wonderful opportunity for kids that are shy, quiet or even hyperactive kids in order to break the barriers and establish a positive relationship for them to play together. I’ve seen this happen and happy that I am part of this. This also encourages kids to discover their personal choices and allows them to explore other opportunities that are necessary for their well-being.

It is challenging to have kids participate in games without a clear structure and lack of a leadership. Therefore, I discover effective ways to create fun and exciting games that are easy to understand and follow each day.  Establishing games that are easy to comprehend provides valuable skills and interest for kids. If activities are easy to understand, kids are more likely to get involved and have less pressure to participate.

It’s time to play when I am out on the playground. No exceptions. I make sure that I hold myself accountable and responsible for bringing safe, fun and exciting games for everyone to be involved in. With a unique focus on Game of the Week strategy during recess changes kid’s attitudes effectively, creates fewer conflicts and increases kid’s participations for having fun. I offer a different Game of the Week each day that challenges the culture out on the playground and focuses on a physical activity as a tool to teach kids valuable lessons, such as leadership opportunities and teamwork for success. Kids also learn life-long skills including cooperation, caring, sharing, encouraging and playing fairly for inclusion. It’s important that I recognize and give each student positive feedback regarding their participations whether it is a positive or a negative outcome. The power of positive words gives me the ability to make a difference out on the playground.

Healthy play brings healthy kids together and their staff members as well. Last week, my Game of the Week theme was racing at White Center Heights Elementary School and it was the most successful recess we have ever seen. We had the entire 5th and 6th grade students lined up and ready to race over and over the entire recess. Even kids who love to play nothing, but soccer came over and played the entire recess. Kids who had no intention of racing with other kids shined and had pure joy. Also the Assistant Principal joined the fun and had a great time racing as well. It was truly an unbelievable experience for everyone.

Learning About Life One (Hilly) Ride at a Time

My name is David and those close to me will attest to the fact that I’m crazy about bikes. In the past I’ve been called such names as “Bicycle Boy”, “Car Antagonist”, “That Biker Kid”, and “Dude Who Rides That Obnoxiously Yellow Fixed Gear” to name a few. Those close to me will also attest to the fact that I love building bikes, I love talking about bikes, I love daydreaming about bikes, you get my point. Everything was fine and dandy until very recently when I came to an abrupt realization about my interest in bikes. I have ridden bikes in some capacity for my entire life but never once saw them as anything more than material possessions that brought me personal enjoyment. In retrospect, I’ve got to admit that my love of bikes had been relatively selfish and narrow-minded. That abrupt (and much needed) realization came this fall when I began working with an amazing group of kids that makes up the Bike Club at Chief Sealth High School.

Bike Club at Chief Sealth High School started as a program through the Cascade Bicycle Club called the Major Taylor Project. This program was the brainchild of Seattle cycling-god Ed Ewing and was designed to bring cycling to low-income communities in Seattle. There are now six Major Taylor Clubs at high schools in Seattle, with Chief Sealth being one of the newest. Marshall “Major” Taylor was a groundbreaking African American cyclist at the turn of the 20th century. Before Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson were even born, Major Taylor was shifting the athletic landscape and overcoming enormous racial barriers. In 1899, Major Taylor became the first African American to reach the level of World Champion when he won the world 1-mile track cycling championship.

The club itself is consists of 14 high schoolers and one 8th grader. We meet every Wednesday after school and follow a pretty consistent agenda each week. We do a check-in, play some warm up games, work on bikes, etc. Then, the fun part: we ride. Cascade Bicycle Club was amazing enough to provide 15 brand new road bikes that the kids ride each week. So far, Bike Club has ridden to Lincoln Park to watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains, over the West Seattle Bridge to the International District to eat Dim Sum, over the Duwamish River to Georgetown to eat Sushi, and all up and down the Delridge Neighborhood hills. We’ve only been meeting since September so I can only imagine how epic our rides are going to get when springtime rolls around and there is more sunlight. These kids are freaks of nature. If it’s cold, they want to ride. If it’s dark, they really want to ride. And if its raining, they reallyyyyyy want to ride. And the most amazing part about this whole experience is the fact that none of these kids knew one another before Bike Club. Now they’ve got 14 other best friends. We ride together, we train together, we have fun together, and in the summer we’ll all ride STP (Seattle to Portland) together.

Bike Club has been nothing but love from the start. Since the first week we met as a club, each of these kids has shown so much love to one another. Karma must be on our side because the community has been showing love back to them. Most recently, Bike Club was able to partner with an organization in Columbia City called Bikeworks. Bikeworks does a ton of youth work centered on bicycle mechanics, hard work, and earning your way. Bikeworks heard about our club and was awesome enough to provide members of our Bike Club with their own bicycles so that they could ride every single day. In return for the bikes, the members had to take an oath swearing to be safe, to be committed to Bike Club, and to be outstanding members of the community.

So back to that part about me feeling really selfish about my love of bikes. Until meeting this group of kids and seeing how amazing it could be to facilitate Bike Club, I never knew that bikes could be used as tools. Rather than being material possessions for my own personal enjoyment, bikes can be used to teach. They can be used to teach personal safety, respect, commitment, and empathy. This Bike Club has taught me that bikes are a good metaphor for life. Be safe, be responsible, work hard, enjoy the sites and sounds, and have fun!



Spring Sprang Sprung

Hello again! The season has finally decided to pick up and the communities in the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association are getting growing. Residents at all 8 properties have been coming together to plant seeds, transplant starts, and get new gardens built. Enjoy a few pictures and brief stories:

Residents at one property have been historically resistant to the idea of having on-site veggie gardens or growing their own food. But one woman (who insists that everyone she meets call her Grandma) requested a windowsill herb garden for her cooking. We set up a window box for her about a month or so ago and planted chives, basil, and cilantro. I checked in on her this week and the herbs are amazing! I showed her how to pick and tend the herbs and talked to her about drying them in order to save them for later. Also, she told me that other residents have noticed her herb garden and are now saying they'd like one too!

Residents at another property, as of this week, have their very first container garden. I recycled some wood from another project and brought it over during my Garden Club meeting for the week. Working with about 7 kids aged 3 to 7, we managed to put together an L-shaped container in the spot designated by the residents. Many of the parents looked on as their kids helped me hold boards sturdy and hammer in nails.

There is a property that has been historically difficult. They have 10 on-site container beds at the end of the driveway, but very little interest in gardening or growing food. I have a standing date every Wednesday with one woman to spend a few hours on necessary garden projects. We created a brand new strawberry patch, installed trellises near the street and trained rose bushes up them, and have been getting the planters on her porch growing.

This week, another resident expressed interest in having a large herb garden outside her living room window. So, this past Wednesday we all worked to move some soil from the garden area down to her apartment.

4 pepper plants recently transplanted with some red plastic mulch to trap heat in the soil.

One of the properties has a great group of active gardeners. This is just one of the approximately 20 large containers in which they are growing edibles and ornamentals. In this box alone there is lettuce, radish, and broccoli growing strong. There are also peas, I believe, and corn was planted but the residents believe a raccoon was rooting around in the dirt and are worried the corn will not grow.