About Our Programs
Children and Teachers (CATs) on the Move is a physical activity curriculum designed for use in schools and community settings. There are currently two versions of the program: CATS on the Move (developed for early elementary school students) and Kiddie CATs on the Move (developed for preschool students).
Kiddie CATs on the Move
Kiddie CATs on the Move was developed by Dr. Lori Erbrederis Meyer in collaboration with the CATs team. Dr. Meyer is a specialist in early childhood education and early childhood special education at the University of Vermont. Although based on the same core principles as CATs on the Move for early elementary school students, the Kiddie CATs on the Move program has a different structure and is designed for three-to five-year-old children.
Children and Teachers (CATs) on the Move
Children and Teachers (CATs) on the Move is a physical activity program designed for use in school and community settings. The primary goal of CATs on the Move is to provide a fun and engaging way to increase the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that children experience in their daily lives. CATs on the Move was designed in collaboration with colleagues from Purdue University, who are now at Michigan State. This version was intended for use with elementary school children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. The program manual offers a wealth of activities that can be implemented across varied settings. Importantly, CATS on the Move is also a research program. Every year our research team collects a wide variety of data and uses it to evaluate and improve the program. Our work suggests that CATs on the Move employs a preventative and lifestyle management approach to addressing the physical and mental health needs of children. Please see the our Publications and Presentations for more information on our research.
What we do and how we do it
We have found that the best way to implement our CATs on the Move programs is by developing community partnerships. These partnerships enrich the experience for everyone involved and minimize burden on classroom teachers when the program is administered in school settings.
Currently, CATs on the Move programs are implemented in local elementary schools and preschools using a partnership model. A requirement of the CATs on the Move programs is that one teacher from every school completes training so that they can work alongside other program facilitators to successfully implement the programs in their school. The additional program facilitators are identified and trained with our assistance, and are often other school staff, college students learning to implement the program as part of a course, or even high school students. Although these are the primary community partnership models that we have utilized in the past, other models that train parent volunteers, community volunteers, or other organizations wishing to partner with the schools are also encouraged.
One example community partnership occurs between the University of Vermont (UVM) and local elementary schools and Head Start programs. UVM college students enroll in the Fit Kids: Applied Research and Fit Kids: Special Populations courses and fulfill the community partner role. They attend a one day intensive training alongside the classroom teachers from local schools. Thereafter the Fit Kids college students are assigned to a school site and visit their site multiple times per week to assist in administering the CATs programs. Working together with the classroom teacher, program facilitators engage children in aerobic activity for a half-hour each session, using developmentally appropriate games outlined in the CATs or Kiddie CATs manuals. The program can be conducted at the time most convenient for each school. For example, the program can be conducted before school, during school, during recess, after school, or in the classroom.