Build Our Kids Success (BOKS) is a grassroots movement that was started in 2009 by Executive Director Kathleen Tullie and a group of passionate volunteers, who were inspired by Dr. John Ratey's book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Dr. Ratey's research provides compelling evidence on how physical activity will supercharge mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen thinking and enhance memory in kids.

Led by community volunteer trainers... or as BOKS likes to refer to them as our Champions of Change , BOKS is quickly gaining traction around the world. Kathleen Tullie states unequivocally that the reason for the program's success is a perfect combination of passionate parents, educators and school staff who are driven to make a difference in children's lives.


Children typically meet 2-3 mornings a week for a 45 minute session and engage in daily themes of functional fitness that incorporate day-to-day movements and play. Check out a typical BOKS class below.

Drop-off and free play

The kids check in, put their backpacks in a designated area and enjoy playing and socializing before BOKS starts.


Meeting and warm-up

Once the kids have been checked in, the Lead Trainer briefly reviews the lesson plan for the day as well as the skill of the week.


Running-Related Activity

The Lead Trainer leads a fun running-related activity, as running is an essential part of every class.


Skill of the Week

Each week the kids practice a particular skill such as push-ups, sit-ups or squats, which are incorporated into fun relays or obstacle courses.


End-of-Class Game

Trainers promote community and teamwork with a playful game.


Cooldown and BOKS bits

The kids stretch, cool down, and discuss the nutrition tip of the week (BOKS Bits) with the Lead Trainer.


Brain after
sitting quietly

Brain after
20 minutes walk

the Science

A sedentary life combined with poor eating habits can lower kids' performance in the classroom and start a cycle of health problems later in life. Studies show that kids who exercise regularly see significant boosts in intelligence-test scores and core subjects at school, compared to their inactive peers.

Cognitive Effects of Exercise in Preadolescent Children

Source: Derived from research by Dr. C.H. Hillman, University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign, Urbana, IL (2009).

An Exercise of the Brain

Meet Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and author of the critically acclaimed book, Spark.

Play video