Thinking Outside the Box

Olympic Duo Teams Up To Get Kids Moving, And Learning

The road to the Olympics can be a long and lonely journey. For every moment spent competing on international ice in front of thousands of fans, there are hours spent toiling in anonymity in the weight room and practice rink. There are also long periods of down time spent hanging out in dining halls, dorm rooms and on long bus rides.

It was during one of those road trips to North Dakota in 2013 when Molly Schaus and Sarah Cahill talked about life after hockey, when Schaus would hang up her goalie pads and Cahill would turn her attention away from working with the U.S. Women's Olympic Team as a strength and conditioning coach and focus on her next fitness project.

It turns out the two shared a vision of getting kids to step away from the computer or television screen and spend more time moving. That's when they came up with the idea for Movement In A Box, a subscription service that combines fundamental movement exercises with learning activities for children. 

With Cahill's background in physical literacy and Schaus' experience as a two-time Olympian, they felt an obligation to help kids get off the couch and start moving toward a healthier future. 

"We would always talk and share stories and books about ways to create a company someday to make the world a better place. And for us, that was through physical activity and movement for kids," said Schaus, who retired in 2015 and joined the Anaheim Ducks as the fan development marketing manager a year later.

"Even before COVID we knew about the sedentary lifestyle and screen time that forced kids to be less active than in previous generations."

To help reverse that trend, the pair began thinking outside the box to get kids moving. Each package is delivered to a kid's doorstep and features a series of age-appropriate activities for children ages 3 to 6 that combine fundamental movement skills such as jumping, skipping, throwing and catching along with learning basic concepts such as shapes, colors, numbers and letters. There are also development tips as well as access to online videos that show parents how to safely and correctly teach each activity.

The first box, devoted to shape exploration, was made available in early May. The second box focuses on learning how to catch and learning colors using different colored beanbags, scarves and beach balls and is slated to ship in early August. New boxes will come to subscribers every three months and are designed to build on the skills learned in the previous box.

Schaus said that while early feedback has been extremely positive, some of the best responses have come from her Olympic teammates who have families of their own.

"It's been fun getting to reconnect with them and sharing it with their little ones has been awesome," Schaus said. 

Among the early fans are Brianne McLaughlin and Jessie Vetter, who were fellow goaltenders with Schaus on the silver medal-winning 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams.

"Bri and her son have been playing with it two hours every day, and she said he has so much fun and is learning so much," Schaus said. "She said that usually after 30 seconds, he gets bored with his toys and throws it. With these activities he just keeps going and going."

Just like learning to read and write, the goal of the program is to teach the ABCs of movement that will help a new generation live a more healthy lifestyle.

"Our goal is to get kids to learn to love movement," Schaus said. "It's all about becoming a mover, not necessarily an athlete. We're not saying, 'Buy this box and your kid will be an Olympian.' It's the exact opposite. How do you build those foundational skills that allow you to be active for life in whatever capacity you want that to be?  

"If you're active as a kid, you're twice as likely to stay active as an adult. It's a long-term play. It is hard to convince a parent of a 2-year-old that what they do now matters for the rest of their life. But it does."



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