Celebrating the PALA Challenge: South Side Chicago School Flash Mobs For School Fitness

November 30, 2011

by Brittany Wright, Media and Outreach Specialist

Last week, Healthy Schools Campaign joined 1World Sports and Chicago Public Schools to celebrate students across Chicago completing the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge.

More than 2,000 Chicago Public School students were tasked with completing 60 minutes of daily physical activity for six weeks. One school, Robert A. Black Elementary, went above and beyond by coordinating a flash mob dance to Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” as part their effort to meet the challenge! The song celebrates First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign encouraging children to be active.

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PALA recipients dance to Beyonce's “Move Your Body” at Robert A. Black Magnet School

Physical education instructor Jill White came up with the idea to create the flash mob. She said, “I was trying to think of something they could all do together. [The celebration] gave them something to really get excited about.” 

White beamed with excitement and pride as the students danced to the hit song. “Some kids just jump the whole time, but they just jumped for four minutes!” she said.

The program strengthened the school community around fitness. The PE teacher points out that “the PALA program really helped solidify the importance of health and gave me something to present to teachers. The teachers and the administration really jumped on board because it was a solid plan.”

White also expressed how honored she was to meet Cornell McClellan, personal trainer to the First Family of the United States and a Chicago native who visited Robert A. Black Elementary to recognize the school's work in helping students meet the PAlA challenge. “That was really cool, I was really impressed!” She added, “It’s great to have someone like McClellan” honor the students for being active.

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Cornell McClellan and Robert A. Black physical education instructor Jill White

“We talk about Michelle Obama and the First Family being involved in this and it gives them a connection,” she said.

Cornell McClellan said, “It means a lot to us that it's here. . . It’s great to know that what they’re doing for all kids is happening in their home town!”

The Robert A. Black Wildcats led 200 students in dance to celebrate the national recognition! McClellan and Tommy Hawk of the Chicago Blackhawks joined in on the fun too!

Congratulations to all of the Chicago Public School students who participated in the PALA Challenge! To learn how you can get involved, visit the Presidential Challenge site. 

For more information about Chicago’s efforts to elevate school fitness, check out Go for the Gold.