Category: Sqord Stories

5 Benefits of Team Sports

Today’s blog post is courtesy of Sqord’s Customer Ops Intern,  Anastasia Erofeeva.  As a former Washington state and regional gymnastics champion, she understands the hard work, dedication, and time it takes to be an athlete and team player, and she wants to share what she has learned with parents and kids.  

The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time, full of learning, friendships, and goal-setting.  It is also an excellent time to try new things, such as joining a club or a team sport.  Not only are team sports a great way to earn Sqord Activity Points and keep children active during the school year, they also provide numerous learning opportunities and benefits that will last a lifetime. Here are just a few of them:

1.  Keeps Kids Moving:

Team sports provide a reliable, consistent and fun way for kids to exercise.  According to KidsHealth, regular exercise helps kids become stronger and healthier, reducing their risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.  Furthermore, studies have shown that active children are more likely to become active (and healthy!) adults.

2.  Academic Achievement:

Through participation in team sports, children learn valuable skills such as dedication, commitment, problem-solving, and an understanding that hard work leads to good results. These skills transfer from sports to the classroom, resulting in higher grades and an improved academic performance. In addition, team sports introduces kids to the art of creating your own balance and building great organization and time management skills, helping them balance homework, sports, family time, and rest.

3.  Teamwork:

The ability to work together towards a common goal is an essential part of team sports, as well as an important life skill.  Participation in team sports allows kids to make lasting friendships, develop communication skills, feel a sense of community, and learn to respect their teammates and coaches.  Additionally, being part of a team teaches children the importance of being a responsible and reliable team member.

4.  Confidence:

When kids see practice pay off, they gain confidence to work towards achieving their goals.  Team sports offer ample opportunities for participants to show off their skills, allowing them to see the results of their work and feel pride in their team’s accomplishments.  This helps children build self-esteem and have a positive outlook

5.  Life Lessons:

In addition to all of these benefits, participating in team sports provides children with the opportunity to learn patience, perseverance, hard work, and how to have a positive approach to setbacks.  Team sports helps put winning into perspective, showing kids that it is not the most important thing in sports.  Young athletes learn good sportsmanship, and how to make each game/meet/performance/event a learning opportunity, all while having fun and practicing a sport they enjoy!

Lastly, don’t forget to encourage your kiddos to wear their Sqord Pods while participating in team sports!  Learn how many Sqord Activity Points are generated by different types of exercise and movement!

With Hopes of Becoming More Active, Patrick Henry Elementary Shot and Sqord!

Early in the 2012 school year I was searching through copy after copy of different PE equipment catalogs for a pedometer I thought would most benefit my students (plastic vs. aluminum, “chip” clip vs. stationary hook, etc.). After what seemed like hours looking at these inferior activity markers, I remembered an interesting product that I thought did something along these lines worn by a principal–and many of his school’s students– in Colorado I had met a few weeks prior.

One thing led to another, and after raising nearly $4,500 in grants, my colleague and I were able to bring the aforementioned Sqord products to our school. All students in grades 3 – 5 were outfitted, along with any of our 95 staff who so desired. An assembly was held to formally launch the product, and we even enjoyed a little related local and national media attention.

From the moment our students strapped on their PowerBands, most were fully on board with this exciting new product. They ran, played, jumped, twirled and tumbled to earn more points and score a victory against the classmate they were paired up with for the week. One student wrote how she rode her bike around the block three extra times each night with hopes of beating her opponent.

More than just anecdotal success, I saw my students’ PACER scores (a test measuring cardiovascular fitness) increase as Sqord participation grew. My students loved this program!

In addition to the added movement in their lives, my students were receiving a safe introduction to online social media. They were able to interact with their peers via the sqord website, sending hi-fives and pre-written squawk messages. Each day they simply had to “swipe” their Bands over one of the several BaseStations we had in the school, and all of their movement was sent away to the protected website.

This program was precisely what my school needed. An external motivation tool that could create some excitement and provide for my students a rich incentive to move and get healthy.

As I write this blog, I am days away form bringing this technology back to my school for a second straight year. Over the summer Sqord has made multiple upgrades to their various products, software and website, and I can’t wait to get them back into my building.

So as my students and I stand on the verge of another great year with this inventive product, we are very thankful for the forward-thinking, innovative minds behind Sqord. Here’s to another great year . . . !

Mike Humphreys, PE Teacher, NBCT

Arlington Public Schools

Sqord, Young Entrepreneur Get Kids Jumping

By Peter Neurath

Thousands of kids in Snohomish County now are more actively jumping and romping around like mad, in good part as a result of a young man on the other side of the country who loved to play when he was a child.

That man is Coleman Greene. A few years ago he formed a company in Chapel Hill, N.C., called Sqord, which produces a sophisticated combination of kid-friendly hardware and an interactive web site aimed at motivating kids to become more active, and have fun doing it.

More active kids in Snohomish County may well result in healthier kids, lower health-care costs, higher academic success and a still more attractive region for more families and businesses.

Upward of 6,000 5th graders in Snohomish County, with permission from their parents, already have activated their Sqord equipment, which elementary schools began distributing in October.

“We partnered with Sqord so that students, teachers and our community could see their pure activity levels for the first time and share discoveries,” said Scott Forslund, director of the Snohomish Health Leadership Coalition, which is promoting Sqord equipment as part of its Gear Up & Go! youth initiative.

“It’s early, but it seems to be working,” he said. “PE teachers are relating students’ excitement discovering when they post their highest levels of healthy activity, and then naturally reflecting on how they can be more active in their own ways, all in the course of natural play.

“This is an amazing natural experiment too,” Forslund continued, “and we are already beginning to see that ‘hot spots’ of activity indeed exist in our own county. Our aim is to make these points of ingenuity visible so people can understand and rapidly spread what’s working — and ultimately help reverse the decline in healthy youth activity.”

Greene, who holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina, describes Sqord’s product this way: “Sqord provides a durable, waterproof device (about the size of a half dollar) for kids to wear that we call a Sqord PowerPod. It measures the intensity and duration of their physical activity. They send their data to Sqord instantly by tapping their PowerPod on top of one of our SyncStations, which can be found in their schools and youth organizations. Our fun and engaging web site rewards kids for the activity points they earn, and it gives them a platform to be social with one another, draw further motivation, and compete in friendly challenges.”

Sqord coach Erin Warner, who’s been helping Snohomish County teachers and students, has witnessed an amazing uptick in activity among fifth graders using PowerPods.

“Students have a heightened awareness of their bodies as it relates to movement,” she said. “The story we hear over and over again is about the non-athletes who, before starting with Sqord, spent their afternoons on the couch with their iPad or at the computer.”

No longer. “Now they are motivated to see how many points they get,” Warner said. For instance:

– A fifth-grade boy at Oak Heights Elementary makes his family run around the apartment complex together so he can get more points.

– A fifth-grade teacher at Horizon Elementary is competing with her fifth-grade son in one of the other Mukilteo schools.

– A fifth-grade girl at Oak Heights replaced her two hours of after-school computer gaming with at least an hour of activity.

Greene was highly active as a child, and memories of his youth helped stimulate him to start up Sqord, together with co-founder Jeff Wright.

“Both play and technology were a part of my childhood,” Greene recalls. “But it was a healthy balance.”

What a contrast Greene has witnessed in many of today’s youth: “I was shocked to see how play was essentially dying for today’s generation of youth. I think the greatness of play is so important. In addition to just being fun, it helps develops kids socially, academically and physically. It can inspire all types of opportunities for kids,” Greene said. “I want Sqord to be the platform that drives a new wave of active play for this ‘connected’ generation — something that brings them the same joy we remember from play, but is aimed at leveraging the awesome world of technology that surrounds them at this age.”

Sqord coach Warner echoes what Greene sees as an essential feature of the company’s product. “Instead of combating technology, Sqord leverages trends in technology to drive success in its platform, recognizing that the social aspects of technology are here to stay,” she said.

Or as Greene puts it, he founded Sqord because he felt “driven to redefine active play and healthy fun for today’s generation growing up in a ‘connected’ society.”

Sqord, according to Warner, “aims to provide a safe and fun forum to facilitate social interaction around play. Kids are joining the same Sqord ‘neighborhoods’ as their peers so they can see how they’re doing, and interact on our platform through ‘squawks’ (pre-made messages) and high fives.”

‘Neighborhoods’ are where kids ‘live’ on the Sqord platform, Warner goes on to explain. “Their neighborhoods will live on after they leave their school teams in the summer.”

Just as it is in Snohomish County, Sqord’s market, consisting of kids eight to 12 years old, is growing nationally. Greene claims the company “has managed to become a leader in the area of youth health.”

The company has sold units in states ranging across the country, including such states as Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, Washington and Alaska. “We intend to expand considerably over the next 12 to 18 months, on both the technology and sales/marketing side of the business,” Greene said.

A key to Sqord’s early success has been their approach towards building an experience that is targeted at kids, Greene said. “Where companies like Nike, Fitbit and Jawbone are focused on the adult market, we acknowledge and embrace some of the challenges presented in building a youth platform.”

Success does not always come easily. Some parents have concerns about activity tracking and social networking. To which Greene responds, Sqord takes the safety and privacy of children using its technology very seriously. ”As some of us are parents ourselves,” Greene affirmed, “we recognize the responsibility we have on this front and we will do all we can to ensure we exceed expectations on this front.”

What’s more, Greene added, when it comes to tracking, Sqord only records physical activity, or motion, of a user throughout the day. Sqord does not capturing any GPS or location-based data. “We also only collect the minimum amount of information required for a user to get set up, and nothing without a parent’s consent,” he said. “The data is never individually sold or licensed to outside parties either.”

As for parental concerns about social networking, Greene said kids using Sqord’s web site are not free to send each other whatever messages they might dream up. Sqord, he said, limits their interaction to friendly competition and encouragement.

Coalition Director Forslund observes that Greene’s vision plays a central role in this county initiative. “Coleman has created an amazing tool that lets kids see their healthy activity mirrored back to them. Students across the county are jazzed. And we’re excited about what this means for the health of our communities.”

This post originally appeared on the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition website here.