Junior School PE Teacher Awarded Let's Move Grant

Karen DiFioreShady Side Academy Junior School physical education teacher Karen DiFiore recently received a $1,000 grant from Let's Move Pittsburgh to purchase Wobble Chairs, Balance Boards and Learning Ladders for classroom teachers to use to increase students' active learning time.

Wobble Chairs are small stools without backs that keep the core engaged. The bottom of the stools does not lay flat on the floor so students can wobble or rock while they are working at their table or desk.

Balance Boards engage the whole body, especially the core, while the student maintains his or her balance. While using the wobble chairs and balance boards, the rocking motion provides movement input for the nervous systems and can be calming and organizing for the brain. This type of input will help students pay attention in a subtle way.

Learning Ladders have students focus on the material they're learning while also concentrating on moving. Students learn coordination and balance while jumping, stepping and moving laterally. There are increased levels of difficulty while using the ladder: students can cross on the rungs or bear crawl on the edges or a part could be missing causing the students to creatively work their way around the ladder. Learning while moving aids in children's visual motor coordination, which helps them to complete different types of puzzles, cut and fold paper and write legibly.

wobble chairbalance boards
A student sits on a Wobble Chair while writing. PK students use the Balance Boards while studying the letter B.Fifth graders use Learning Ladders to study music scales.

The grant requires the recipient to hold a healthy fundraiser to enable the school to purchase more equipment. An Obstacle Course fundraiser will be held at the Junior School in the spring.

Let's Move Pittsburgh – modeled after former First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! national campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of healthy foods, increased exercise and decreased screen time for children – is a program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and a collaborative effort of organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania committed to addressing childhood obesity in our region. Since many lifetime habits are established in childhood, Let's Move Pittsburgh focuses on children and advocates on their behalf by: 1) Identifying and building upon current best practices; 2) Uncovering, analyzing and removing barriers to change; and 3) Developing and establishing a consistent message among healthcare providers, early childcare centers, schools, out of school and community programs, and the food, restaurant and beverage industry about what we should be doing for children now to foster better habits for the future.

Congratulations to Mrs. DiFiore!

To submit an idea for a website news story, please email

Powered by Finalsite