Getting to know the store manager at her local sporting goods store resulted in timely funding for Selma (Ind.) Middle School PE teacher Tammy Brant.
“We are in a small community that’s like a little college town,” Brant said. “We have one sporting goods store in town and it’s Dick’s Sporting Goods. I obviously go in there a lot and I got to talk with the assistant store manager quite a bit and I told her about my program, just talking.”
Brant, the 2011 SHAPE America National Middle School PE Teacher of the Year, knew Dick’s has a history of helping youth sports teams and organizations in communities.
“I know that every time I check out, they ask you if you want to donate a dollar to ‘Sports Matter,’” she said.
Sports Matter is Dick’s non-profit foundation. Through Sports Matter, Dick’s provides funding and equipment and also sponsors youth teams and leagues.
To Brant’s surprise, Dick’s also provides funding for public school programs in the form of local store awards and larger national grants. According to their website, the Sports Matter Foundation has donated to 1 in 21 public schools across the country.
“I didn’t know they awarded money to schools,” Brant said. “Most of the time, I think it’s little leagues or a basketball organization or a football program. They want to ‘help save youth sports.’”
Brant didn’t expect her friendly conversations as a customer with the store manager were anything more than friendly conversations. Then, while at the SHAPE America conference in New Orleans in April, she got a call with surprisingly good news: the local Dick’s Sporting Goods, as part of its community support program, awarded her a $5,000 award to use for her PE program. The award was one of five that schools in that specific Dick’s Sporting Goods region received. Officials from Dick's Sporting Goods regional office came to Selma Middle School to celebrate.
“I knew exactly what I was going to do with that,” Brant said of her newfound funding.
Brant purchased a set of IHT ZONE heart rate monitors and is already using them with her students.
“This is ideal for what I wanted it to do,” she said. “Kids can see their heart rate. I can look at them and see where they are at just based on the lights.”
In her first week using the IHT ZONES, Brant taught students about both ends of the heart rate spectrum. Bringing heart rate down, especially in stressful situations, improves emotional health.
“I want them to learn how to relax,” she said. “Everybody needs this life skill. We talk about stress and anxiety, especially with middle school kids. When your heart is racing, you have to know what that feels like so you can get yourself calmed down. Not everything we do is geared toward a high heart rate.”
She needs students to understand how they feel when they are exercising at an elevated heart rate and how they can benefit from keeping their heart rate up.
“We did our target heart rate lesson a little earlier than planned,” she said. “We talked about that and how being (at your target heart rate when exercising) for 20 minutes will help you with your cardiovascular fitness.”
By the end of the school year, Brant wants all her students – sixth graders especially – to learn what it feels like to be in each heart rate zone:
- Blue indicates resting heart rate
- Yellow indicates elevated heart rate
- Red indicates maximum heart rate
“You may never have your own fitness tracker or whatever,” Brant told students. “By the time you leave me, I want you to know how you feel when you’re in yellow, when you’re in red. How do you feel? That’s what we’re trying to recognize.”