Interview with the ¡Activate Ya! project team: "We see great potential for Muuvit in South America!”

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From left to right: Dr. Andrew Springer, Co-Principal Investigator; Sebastian Peluffo, PE teacher-Colegio Espinola; Lucia Martinez, Project Coordinator (front); Maria Traversa, Associate Project Director; Martina Florines, Evaluation Lead; Viviana Moreno, Intervention Lead; Peter Cribb, CATCH Global Foundation Program Director

Muuvit has been incorporated as part of the ¡Activate Ya! tobacco prevention and physical activity promotion program in Uruguay. Interview with the ¡Activate Ya! project team.

What is ¡Activate Ya!?

Andrew: ¡Activate Ya! is a National Institute of Health-funded research study that aims to develop and test a culturally appropriate school-based intervention for the prevention of tobacco use and the promotion of physical activity in secondary schools in Uruguay.  With the aim of creating a school-wide environment that promotes student physical activity and prevents tobacco use, we designed ¡Activate Ya! based on a multiple component approach, including a classroom-based curriculum, PE class strategies, and an afterschool program.  The project has been developed via a partnership with the University of Texas School of Public Health-Austin, CIET- the Centro de Investigacion para la Epidemia de Tabaquismo, MUUVIT and Uruguayan private and public secondary schools.    

Why did you integrate Muuvit?                                                                          

Andrew: When we first learned about Muuvit, we were really inspired by Muuvit’s approach of combining classroom learning with motivation for students to engage in physical activity outside the classroom via both the Muuvit passport/tracking approach and the online journey. While we initially explored Muuvit for its potential to motivate student physical activity outside the classroom, we see opportunity for Muuvit to support academic learning for Uruguayan secondary school students through incorporating academic-specific content such as math and reading in the Muuvit online journey. Muuvit has the potential to fit well within the Uruguayan school system given that all students now have been provided a laptop through the Plan Ceibal program. 

How did you integrate Muuvit?

Lucia: As Muuvit was initially developed for primary school students, our first step was to tailor the program for secondary school students, which is the population we are working with.  In doing so, we collaborated with a wonderful Uruguayan artist named Juan Pablo Zorrilla, who helped create the ‘youth-inspired’ artwork for the ¡Activate Ya! program and now for the Muuvit online journey for Latin America.   We then worked with our team and your wonderful colleagues at Muuvit to develop content for Muuvit in Latin America.  Once the program was developed, we integrated the Muuvit tool into the Activate Ya! tobacco and physical activity lessons. In fall of 2014, we pilot tested the ¡Activate Ya!/Muuvit classroom curriculum in two secondary schools to assess the general process for implementing the program. In conducting the pilot testing of Muuvit, we found that students were engaged and enjoyed the overall content. 

And what happened after the piloting?                                                                                        

Lucia: We are now working with 16 schools in and around Montevideo to implement and evaluate the ¡Activate Ya! program, which includes Muuvit.  For this first year of implementation, we have trained 11 teachers to implement ¡Activate Ya!/Muuvit classroom curriculum. In supporting the implementation of the ¡Activate Ya! classroom curriculum component, we also developed teacher and student guides to help lead teachers and students in learning about the key topics of physical activity and tobacco use prevention.  The ¡Activate Ya!/Muuvit curriculum has been developed to be  implemented over a 12 week period. 

What is your feedback?                                                                                                              

 Andrew: This has been a great year so far as we are learning a lot alongside our Uruguayan teachers in the project schools about the best way to incorporate this type of activity and curriculum into the Uruguayan school system.  We feel Muuvit provides a good complement for ¡Activate Ya!, given its alignment with our health objectives, and we see great potential for Muuvit in South America. We are grateful for the good partnership with Muuvit and their awesome team!