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Feature Story

May 2016


SHAPE America Recognizes Just Dance School of the Year

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By Dave Ramont

Congratulations are in order for Moscow Middle School in Moscow, Idaho, for being named the first ever Just Dance School of the Year. The honor comes from SHAPE America - the Society of Health and Physical Educators, and Just Dance, makers of the active video game used for exercise and entertainment in schools and homes worldwide. Jessica Shawley, the school's lead physical education teacher, accepted the award on behalf of her 550 students and fellow physical education colleagues during SHAPE America's National Convention & Expo, held in Minneapolis in early April.

These days, schools are on the lookout for innovative ways to get kids excited about exercise. And Just Dance is in step with SHAPE America's National Standards for K-12 Physical Education, and has been part of Moscow Middle School's curriculum for the past five years, as part of a pilot study program.

"As a physical education teacher, my mission is to cultivate success by enhancing our students' fitness and improving their physical literacy through a variety of fitness, motor skills, and lifetime recreational activities, sports and health lessons," Shawley said. "Just Dance has served as an ideal way to do just that."

SHAPE America is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, they work with their 50 state affiliates and national partners to support many fitness initiatives, including the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.

SHAPE America President Steve Jefferies said that "Over the past four years, SHAPE America has worked with Ubisoft, makers of the active video game Just Dance, to introduce schools to a fun and different way to get students engaged in physical activity. We are always thrilled to reward our physical education teachers for their hard work and commitment to educating students on the value of physical education and physical activity."

Besides bragging rights, the Just Dance School of the Year prize package includes hotel, airfare, convention registration and per diem to the 2016 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo; $1,000 cash reward; video game console and Just Dance games; and Just Dance and SHAPE America branded active gear.

Shawley, the 2012 SHAPE America National Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, teaches a dance unit that includes learning how to play the popular video game and specific moves to the songs. Shawley said Just Dance is always a regular class selection on student reward days and noted how it's also a huge hit with students who have special needs. "One student even got up from his wheelchair to finish one of the songs standing up. This was a major step for him because we had been encouraging him to increase his time out of his chair and we saw how Just Dance was a motivator for him."

Additionally, classroom teachers often use Just Dance to provide students with an activity break, and it's popular at school dances and the school's annual Parents Night. It's also used to send off students before holidays, to remind them to keep moving while on break.


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