By Megan McCall
Megan McCall, first grade teacher at Valley View Elementary, presents her students with a rather unique opportunity every year in the fall: detoxifying their brains.
The DETOX Program is a ten-day cleanse from ALL electronics. It means ten days of going back to the basics of learning to play board games, shuffling a deck of cards, walking on stilts, speed cup stacking, working on arts and crafts, etc. The group also meets on a Sunday afternoon to do a healthy walk on the trail.
Third through fifth graders stay after school and participate in two classes that are run by parents and teachers. Every year, about 225 detoxers participate, and the program has been going for three years.
Initially the DETOX Program was to improve the MEAP scores. Research shows that cleansing your brain from electronics at least 3 days before a test will lead to better test performance, but McCall believes it leads to much more than that. Family dynamics improve, school attitude and behavior improves, healthier choices occur in terms of fitness as well as food choices, kids sleep better and a lot more, and overall attitude from the child improves. It is an overall win-win situation.
Downtown Rockford businesses support the program as well by offering little incentives for students’ abstinence from electronics. Businesses are very generous with their donations. Of course, the program would not be a success without the support of wonderful parents, as well.
McCall wrote a grant for her DETOX program in 2012, hoping to provide students with materials that would help them be successful participants in the program. The Rockford Education Foundation (REF) gave her full funding. One of the items she received was a set of 30 speed stacking cups.
McCall said, “REF is all about giving teachers, students, and the community as many opportunities as they can to enrich a student’s academic experience. They believe and want to do as much as they can to support ALL of us. Rockford is blessed for all of the opportunities that the REF has provided for the community of Rockford. This is just one of many grants that the REF has helped fund for me. Without the REF and all that they do, we wouldn’t be able to do near the amazing things that we are able to do.”
Although DETOX is for only 10 days a year, McCall is using the cups at least two to three times a week, letting many benefit from REF’s generous donation. Former Detoxers from grades three through five come down during recess and practice two times a week. Every Friday, McCall’s first graders along with their fourth grade “book buddies” practice stacking together, too.
The benefits of stacking are astounding. Not only does speed stacking help students with gross and fine motor skills, it helps make cross-connections in their brain (crossing the midline), and it carries over into academics.
The World Sport Stacking Association sent McCall a letter congratulating students on their contribution to help the WSSA into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Organizer Jill Fox wrote, “A gigantic thank you to the 2,375 schools and youth organizations from 30 countries that took part in this year’s event. This year’s STACK UP! participation beat last year’s mark by more than 70,000. The new record that we will submit to Guinness World Records for ‘Most People Sport Stacking at Multiple Locations in One Day’ stands at 483,658 stackers!”