The idea of change evokes different reactions within people. It is something that is with us from the moment we take our first breath, until out last. Some change passes without us noticing, yet other times we are immediately aware of its impact. It can be rewarding. It can be confronting. It is inevitable.
Why then talk about change? Over the past few years, and many conversations with people about what Amperstand offers, I’ve had the opportunity to witness how people view change and their willingness to embrace change. It has opened my eyes to the way people are wired, and by that I mean whether they are changeseekers/adopters or change avoiders.
A conversation with a potential customer left me wondering why change avoiders are unwilling to consider alternatives. Their mentality of 'we’ve always done it this way’, or ‘I don’t think we would be willing to do that’ to me at least go against natural human instinct. And most of the time the change avoiders are the gatekeeper to the change seeker. It is beyond frustrating.
Fortunately, we have the change seekers/adopters. In recent weeks, seeds planted with these people have led to immensely positive health and wellbeing outcomes for students and young adults. These people had a duty of care to consider an alternative, and in doing so, changed the way people in their care will now grow and learn.
So if you find yourself avoiding change because it's the path of least resistance, consider the positive impact you might be denying others.
We have been encouraging change for a while now, so it was time we made a few changes of our own. Take a look at the newly released website, and how we are branding and marketing the product. Hope you like it!!
On that same note, we have had a few schools change up the feet on their desks over the past week. Our new locally manufactured feet reduce the weight of a desk by roughly 3kg, and bring much requested mobility to the product.
I was sitting back this past Friday afternoon when an email popped into my inbox. It was from EducationHQ, a publication to which I no longer subscribed. The title caught my attention.
Why telling students to ‘sit still’ might stunt their learning: experts
The article itself was ‘busy’, in that it covered quite a lot, though perhaps not in significant detail. It did however touch on a few important points which I think are worth noting:
1) Those who regulate education and determine classroom furnishing like uniformity. This has resulted in little change over the years. In some cases, change has been adopted it’s gone too far….sofas and beanbags…. many teachers agree that we need to find a middle ground.
2) Neurological and Cognitive benefits of movement. This is where I thought the article was light on detail, talking about the ‘swelling body of research showing the undeniable fusion between movement and learning’. This point alone should be enough to get the attention of educators, or at least have them question whether they are providing a fit for purpose offering.
3) Environment not being conducive to learning, and actually constraining what is natural i.e., movement. It did touch on students having a less developed vestibular systems as a result.
NB: I had to Google ‘What’s is the Vestibular System?”. Turns out is ‘the sensory that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation’.
So, the message to people making decisions about learning and how their students interact with their environment is quite clear. Provide students with options to move within their learning environment, and don’t inhibit what is natural.
You might even find that students get better academic results.
The final week of school holidays saw us install 45 desks into local schools, then last week 24 desks into another. Walking into a classroom with a new desk and seeing the reaction on the faces of the children was priceless.
The feedback from the teaching staff though was probably the most satisfying moment of making our first deliveries. Almost without exception, teachers commented that they had a number of children who would benefit from the flexibility of being able to sit/stand/move in their own personal learning space.
If your school is interested in trialing one of our desks, for students or teachers, please reach out to us by phone or the website.
Winding the clock back to April 2017, one of my first blogs related to a book I had purchased, titled Deskbound : Standing Up in a Sitting World.
Written by Dr. Kelly Starrett (along with his wife Julie and New York Times writer Glen Cordoza), Deskbound sought to draw attention the issues of a sedentary lifestyle, and how we, as society, have become predisposed to sitting. It sought to provide solutions to the reader for people of all ages.
Julie Starrett published an article this week, Eight Reasons Why Kids Should Stand At School. She is quick to point out that ‘It’s not about standing, it’s about reducing sedentary behaviour by creating more opportunities for movement during the school day’. These are words we have used time and again when speaking with teachers, principals, students and even people within government.
The article will take you five minutes to read. Even if you don’t have children, consider your own lifestyle and develop ways to sit less, move more.
I’m off to my daughter’s netball now. Have a great weekend.
Progress over the past few months has been significant, and we are currently undertaking our first production run, due for delivery during July. Having started on this journey in 2016, I can honestly say that the next 6-8 weeks of waiting will likely be the most frustrating.
In the meantime, enjoy the small selection of images we can now share with you. We’ll add images of the solution we have for teachers in due course.
Interesting article in The Australian this morning. It cites a report from the American Journal of Public Health (Evaluating the Evidence on Sitting, Smoking, and Health: Is Sitting Really the New Smoking?) suggesting that sitting isn’t as bad as smoking. In doing so, it notes that an excessively sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of premature death by 10-20%. I’d make two observations.
Secondly, there is a growing body of evidence which focuses less on the soundbite, and more on the opportunities to improve health outcomes. And it’s really no more than providing opportunities for people to move throughout the day.
I won’t hold my breath waiting - that would be bad for my health - though perhaps one day the headline will read Movement - better than both sitting and smoking.
Almost one year ago, I put pen to paper, and posted my first blog on behalf of Amperstand. If you are one of the 411 unique visitors to amperstand.com.au, thanks for checking in on what we are doing.
Looking back on that first post and the few I have published in the What’s Up section of the website, one might wonder what Amperstand has been up to. I’ll save you the detail, though I will say it’s been an amazing ride setting up the structure and mechanics of a new business in Australia, something I didn’t think I would ever do.
The coming weeks promise to be the most exciting and anxious since inception. I expect to sign a Manufacturing Agreement and begin pre-production sample manufacture for both our Junior and Intermediate/Senior desks within the coming 2-3 weeks. Those desks will undertake a rigorous, independent testing process, no doubt some tweaks here and there, until such time as we are sufficiently comfortable to signing off on full scale production.
At a more appropriate time, I will disclose more details on our partners in production, logistics, warehousing and distribution. What I can say is that we are incredibly proud to have been introduced to and be working with organisations who give back to the community, providing opportunities for people with disability.
As we wind down and spend time with friends and family over the holiday period, it is difficult not to look ahead to 2018 with a sense of excitement and anticipation....and a little trepidation. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The majority of 2017 has been devoted to preparation and planning the business, and experimentation and tweaking the design of the product. The last three months have allowed us to present 'Brewster', the prototype desk, to schools throughout the region. The feedback has been incredibly positive, validating the time and effort we have put in to date.
Early 2018 will see us working with manufacturers, producing a number of sample and prototype desks. All going well, we expect to be be in a position to take orders during Q2, 2018, with delivery in late Q2/early Q3 2018.
On behalf of the Amperstand team, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and the very best for the New Year.
To those those of you who follow Amperstand's progress, apologies for the lack of updates over the past few months. I can assure you that silence doesn't mean lack of progress. In fact we have done much in the background over the past few months to establish the business and product.
Most recently, we were in Hong Kong, visiting the school and the namesake for our prototype desk, Brewster. It was great seeing the KS teachers and families. Congratulations on the new Assembly Hall. The trivia night was a lot of fun, we hope to do it annually.
Speaking of Brewster, he's been in the wars, and is currently having some work done to have him ready for meetings next week. It's easy to forget that he's a prototype, and prototypes break, that's why they are a part of the lifecycle of a product. We have learned much from the exercise. Better now than further down the track.
Next steps for us are to solicit feedback from further schools, refine the design, then manufacture another prototype/sample. That should put us in the position to be able to decide on manufacturing partners and part suppliers.
Finally, please share our story with your friends, family and colleagues. 2018 is just around the corner and shaping up as the year we will showcase our hard work to the world.
We are off to Bali for a few days, to attend the wedding my my good mate Wrighty....should be a blast.
Next week, we will be ready to roll out our prototype desk, Brewster. Yes, he's ready, having the moving bits refitted this week. He has been powdercoated and looks a treat. Cannot wait to hit the road with him, to begin the process of transforming an idea into a business, and positively influencing classroom behaviours.
The closest I have ever been to sporting glory is the monthly dream (nightmare) of waking up as the opening batsman for Australia, with M.L Hayden at the other end. And it usually ends up with me forgetting to put on my pads or having arms of lead and not being able to hit the ball...then I wake up...hoping that the next time I'll get off the mark.
So when my sister asked me whether I had read Jane Flemming's (Australian Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion) comments about the need to get Aussie kids standing and moving, I took notice.
The gist of what Jane is saying is pretty simple, and I doubt anyone would deny that it makes sense...1) legislate to have every second classroom lesson be a stand up lesson 2) drop kids off further from school so they have to walk further.
Legislation is problematic in this country. The Prime Minister (who waded into the conversation on 3AW) suggested that we leave it up to the teachers to run their own classes. That makes sense, so long as those teachers who recognise the benefits of mobility in the classroom are being provided with the tools to 'run their own classroom'.
As for Amperstand, we take delivery of our prototype desk on Wednesday...we might even show you what it looks like in the next post. It's named Brewster.
Federal Budget weekhere in Australia. It is pleasing to see funds allocated to the Heart Foundation for their continued support of initiatives to have people walking to work, as well as for a National Sports Plan. Surely that will receive bipartisan support and sail through Parliament…..but you never know in Australia.
One thing caught my eye yesterday morning. I caught part of an interview Ross Greenwood held with the Prime Minister post the budget. One scene had PM Turnbull showing Ross his height adjustable desk.
That reminded me of an article from a few months back about Federal government departments ordering height adjustable desks for specific staff. From January to December, just shy of 1000 height adjustable desks were purchased at a cost of $1.5mn for staff who requested them for health specific reasons.1
Let’s hope that future Federal and State budgets allocate funds to the broadening this initiative, not only in the workplace, but into schools and educational facilities.
We've settled on the design for the prototype, looks great, I'm really proud of it and importantly can see the benefit it will deliver to students. I delivered the design and specs to a local aluminium fabricator today, so with luck we will get the work underway in the next week and be able to showcase it in a month or so.
At some stage we'll post a picture and show the world what we have been doing.
A few weeks ago I bought a book titled Deskbound: Standing Up in a Sitting World, written by Dr. Kelly Starrett (along with his wife Julie and New York Times writer Glen Cordoza).
I had come across the Starrick’s last year, discussing work they had done at their daughter’s school in California.Having witnessed the changes taking place in children’s running techniques and postures between preschool (active, less sitting) and Year 1 (sitting is more common),Kelly and Julie decided to do something about it.A meetingwith theprincipal explainedhow 'standing would not only prevent a myriad of orthopedic problems in children but could also be a simple and elegant tool in combating childhood obesity, increasing classroom concentration and more. 1
Withintwelve months, Vellecito Elementary School had become the world’s first all- standing school, and the not for profitStandUpKids.orghad been formed.
So I ask, what are the takeaways from this?
1) We need people like the Starrick’s, with the training and expertise to know what they are talking about, to bring issues like this to the attention of people who can do something about it. My Mum did this at our school tuckshop in the 80’s, in having sweets and fizzy drinks removed from the menu. Looking at tuckshop menu’s now, I can see that she was way ahead of her time....
2) Listeners and acknowledgers are great, but we need doer's i.e.,people who will get stuff done.Hats off to Tracy Smith, the Principal at Vallecito Elementary School who made it happen.
1. Deskbound: Standing Up in a Sitting World,Starrett, Kelly et al, Victoria Belt PublishingInc, 2016
The ABC’s ‘Catalyst’ program screened a piece in August 2012, simply titledSittingisDeadly. Despite five years passing since it first aired, Iwould strongly encourage you to view athttp://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3568627.htm. An ever growing body of research points to the simple fact that people who sit morelikelyto suffer from heart disease and diabetes (to name a few)ordie earlier than those who sit less.
As you watch the video, or read the transcript, consider how much you sit each day, and then think about how much your child or children sit each day….either at home, on public transport, and at school. Yep, it’s frightening.
Behaviour modification becomes more difficult the older we become. More and more adults are beginning to sit less and stand more at work as their employers recognise the benefits of doing so (and consequences of not doing so).Logically then, should we not be extending this movement into schools and other learning institutions?Yes, we should.
Ina single student generation, we canchange behaviours and transformtheclassroom.
If you would like to know more about Amperstand height adjustable school desks,please dropme anote.
Having gone through the process of coming up with a name for a company, I can now see why there are hundreds of books and websites on the topic. I’m sure some people find it easy, but for me it was arguably more difficult than the initial spec we wrote in mid 2016 to design a height adjustable desk.
In short, it’s a play on words…the ‘&’ symbol is called the ampersand, and represents the word ‘and’. So with our aim of trying to get kids more active in classroom environment, sitting less and standing more, it became &Stand, or Amperstand.
The history of the ampersand is a pretty cool story itself, check it our here.