A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of School-Based Active Living Programs

Activities promoting Active Living by Design (ALbD) were implemented at a public elementary school in Chicago over five years. This paper discusses the results of documenting the progress resulting from implementing ALbD activities.

An exploratory mixed-methods approach was used to assess health and activity program outcomes at a school built originally without any playgrounds. Approximately 40 percent of the students were overweight in this school’s primarily Spanish-speaking, low-income, Latino immigrant community.

Data was collected from 2004 through 2008 and included student body mass index (BMI) scores, standardized test scores, discipline data, and documented Take 10! Program data (i.e., physical activity logs and physical activity knowledge surveys).

Key Findings:

  • Students who had been enrolled continuously from Grade 1 through Grade 4 (the cohort most exposed to ALbD activities) had a significantly lower BMI compared with students who had transferred to the school after Grade 1.
  • From 2004 through 2008, student achievement on standardized tests improved while visits to the disciplinary office decreased.

School administrators, teachers, and students were motivated by results of the study. Many programs and ALbD activities continue to operate (past the study timeframe) due to positive feedback and shared enthusiasm for an active and healthy school community.