By Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – It was the idea of a group of moms in Natick and has grown into an international health and fitness program, for kids.

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With the work of parent volunteers, teachers and trainers, the “Boks” program is making a difference in the gym and the classroom.

It’s about an hour before school at Memorial Elementary in Natick, and several dozen kids have gotten up early to get moving and have fun. Some are shooting hoops, others skipping rope and spinning hula hoops.

“We run around and we do all these fun exercises,” says Paige Tullie, one of the students. “And we do games and it really gets my mind working and ready for school,” adds Kyle Chase.

And that’s the idea. Activity before school not only helps children feel good, it gets them ready to learn.

“It’s proven that if kids exercise for 15 to 20 minutes before school they do better in school. They’re more attentive. They have more confidence,” says Kathleen Tullie, one of the parents who started the fitness program in Natick four years ago.

Since then it’s been adopted by the Reebok Foundation in Canton. Today Boks is in close to 200 schools in 17 states and three countries with hundreds of parent volunteers and teachers working as partners.

“Having the parents is awesome because it brings the community together and it shows that fitness is just a whole part of everyone’s being now,” says Jenny Pascarelli, a gym teacher at the school.

“I just like working with the kids and seeing them exercise and get lot of benefit out of the program,” says parent volunteer Laurie Gordon.

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The program is completely voluntary for the kids and usually runs three mornings each week. The curriculum is free.

“On the days I don’t do it, I’m really tired. And it wakes me up by making me exercise,” says Josh Christensen, another student.

But exercise isn’t the only goal.

“We learn about nutrition and what are the good things to eat and the bad things,” says Jenna Forman.

“I do believe we’re changing the children’s lives. Kids are talking about exercise, they’re talking about nutrition. We need these types of initiatives to help create a healthier generation,” says Kathleen Tullie.

By the end of this year, they hope to have the program in nearly 700 schools.

To find out more about bringing the Boks program to your school:

Do you know people working to make a difference in their communities? Let us know and maybe we’ll do a story.

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