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Nov. 26, 2021

What is The Human Performance Project

What is The Human Performance Project

This special bonus edition of The "I" in Win podcast features Kara Klingler, who's the project lead of the Illinois Human Performance Project. I was first introduced to ILHPP when HOF softball coach/English teacher Cathy Ann Smith of Conant High School (IL) was a guest on episode four.

And ever since that episode, I knew I wanted to have Kara on to talk more about The Illinois Human Performance Project because I think it's a great, underutilized resource for many listeners.

Episode Resource:

Illinois Human Performance Project

More Info on Kara Klingler


Review The "I" in Win on Apple Podcast or my website to let me know what you think of the show. If you want to connect with me to discuss leadership coaching, or even make guest recommendations, best ways through my website or on Twitter (@LukeMertens

Transcript

Luke:

Okay, welcome to this special bonus edition of The "I" in Win podcast. I want to welcome on Kara Klingler. Who's the project lead of the Illinois human performance project that might sound familiar to you. It should, uh, we were first introduced to this by Cathy Ann Smith of Conant High School back in episode four. And ever since that episode, I knew I wanted to have Kara and talk more about. The Illinois Human Performance Project, because I think it's a great resource for a lot of our listeners to know more about. So Kara, thanks for being on the show.

Kaira:

Yeah, thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be.

Luke:

So let's start with first who you guys are.

Kaira:

Yeah, absolutely. So the Illinois Human Performance Project, or I'll call it ILHPP for short, since it's a pretty long title. Um, we're a program housed within a national program called life of an athlete, human performance project, or LOA HPP for sure. And John Underwood is actually the founder of that national program. And he really teaches how lifestyle decisions can impact our mental and physical performance. And so, you know, we know through scientific research that sleep blue, light nutrition, substances, alcohol mood, and mindset, stress, you know, it all plays a large role in how our bodies perform every single day. And so he developed this program in collaboration with veteran us Navy seals and founders of the applied performance sciences or APS, and their primary focus is leadership development. So kind of through the combination of that scientific research from John and the leadership development from APS, we're able to then provide education to students, parents, school personnel. And this education can really enhance their performance by identifying those ways to build accountability and make those healthy lifestyle choices. So I HPP. You know, while it was originally designed for athletes, the LOA HPP, we have chosen to really target all students and not just athletes. And so we challenge our students to empower their peers, to set those positive standards and health and leadership to achieve the optimal performance. And. Project might look different in every single school, but the power of this project is the way it can be adapted to fit the needs of each individual school and community that chooses to get involved with us in promoting that positive, healthy.

Luke:

So if I'm sitting here listening to this episode now, and I'm like this, this is intriguing something I'd be interested in getting involved with what are the steps?

Kaira:

Absolutely just simply contacting us. It's it's the first step that would take place. Um, so they can reach me directly. They can go to our website ilhpp.org and send us a message. Um, and from there we can have a conversation of what they're looking for. Um, maybe it's adapting a program that already exists in their school. Or maybe they're completely starting from scratch. And so we'll have that conversation with those individuals of, of how we can best fit this program into their school and what they're looking to build.

Luke:

And thinking like a teacher or coach who might be listening to this right now, some things that would probably pop in his or her head would be number one, cost and number two time committed.

Kaira:

Great questions. Uh, most of our programming and resources are free. Um, so we do have a grant to be able to provide these types of resources and programming through the state of Illinois, which has incredible. Um, the only time there might be a cost incurred is at some of our trainings. Um, because we are a grant, we can't cover a hundred percent of everything. So sometimes there might be a fee, for example, at our summer conference where we're going overnight and staying multiple days on a college campus. Um, and at times, Really kind of depends on their intentions and what they're looking to do. What I really appreciate about this program and I'm sure staff who might be listening might appreciate as well, uh, is that it's a student led and staff supported initiative. So the students are really taking the power and the steps to make this happen and to execute. The activities or the materials they're giving the presentations while the staff are simply just supporting. So it's really great that we can put that sup that power into the students. Um, so the time commitment may not be as, as hard as, as one might think.

Luke:

Yeah. And I'm only asking about the time commitment piece, just because teachers and coaches are so stretched so thin as it is. And sometimes people would be intimidated to say, well, I just, I can't take even more on my shoulders right now. So the extra training is that what the adults go to with the kids or is it just the kids go and become student leaders? How does that.

Kaira:

So. The staff typically will come with the students to most of our trainings. Um, we have a group called the student leadership committee that is solely dedicated to students where staff aren't participating. Uh, but most of the time we have what we call a chapter advisor or a staff sponsor and they would come with the students to the programming. A lot of the times we'll pull the staff aside and do separate training with. And have the students be in another space learning And getting additional resources. So we definitely like to provide that soul education and awareness and give them the tools that they need to support those students in the program.

Luke:

And I know you said you're part of a larger organization, Life of an Athlete. What about people who are outside of Illinois? What steps can they take? If they're interested in doing this and their school, I know that you have chapters throughout the country. How would that work?

Kaira:

I would definitely try to reach out to John Underwood and I can certainly provide his information. Um, and he is the one who really helps to grow the program nationally. I also have some connections throughout different states, um, that I could provide to people as well. You know, this is a definitely a country-wide program. We have people in California and New Mexico and New Hampshire. And Wyoming and the list goes on and on. So I definitely have some connections and other areas as well that we can tap into.

Luke:

Where is it most popular? And I'm only asking because I've been in education for 20 years in coaching, and I never heard of it until I interviewed Kathy. And so I was just curious, is it kind of new to Illinois? Just kind of the grassroots process right now. And is it bigger than some other.

Kaira:

Yeah, that's a great question. So John started LOA HPP about 20 years ago. Uh, so it's been around for quite some time. There are actually chapters in Illinois that were developed before ILHPP even came into existence. Um, so for example, Barrington high school was one of the first schools in the state to have the program when directly with John Underwood. And so they've been around going on 10 years now, which is really cool. Um, but there are other states that have been, you know, doing this programming for, for quite some time. So it's really cool to see it continue to grow into.

Luke:

One thing is maybe I'm seeing it as a challenge. It's probably not a challenge. Once you answer my question, you train these students to become leaders of the local chapter, but it's fluid kids are coming and going. Right, probably right. When they really become, you know, able to hone their craft as a leader, they're graduating. So how does that work with the constant flow of kids coming and going?

Kaira:

Yeah, there's always going? to be some turnover. Um, what's really neat is that a lot of the high schools who have been doing this for a few years also tap into the middle schools that feed into their high school. Um, so they're getting kids involved in seventh and eighth grade and continuing him into the high school years, which is really neat to see them evolve. But really we just try to encourage them to bring friends, especially towards. The end of the school year, you know, bring a lowerclassmen with you so that they can learn. Um, and we are, are always willing to step in and provide training to new students that come in so they can step up right to the plate to where the previous students were.

Luke:

What if an individual sport say the football program at one school? I want to do this, but it's not happening within the entire school community. Can you still do that? Is that still an effective way to go about it?

Kaira:

Yeah, I think that's a really great question and a great starting point for a lot of individuals. So we've seen it happen ourselves where just one team, we'll start with our student leadership manual or we'll jump in to one of our nutrition presentations. And slowly, you know, the word just kind of gets out and they find it really interesting. Or an athletic director finds out that this coach has decided to bring this into their team and that's kind of where the growth happens, but it? can totally just kind of stick within one sport. You know, as long as it touches one person, it always makes me excited And eager to keep going. So no matter how big or small it gets our resources are still valid.

Luke:

And there's a lot of aspects you touch on that kids really need to know nutrition, sleep leadership. What do you see kids really lacking today? Like what's an area that schools are really starting to hone in on and hopefully develop these skills within kids.

Kaira:

I think that, especially in the current times that we're in, sleep is definitely a conversation we've been having a lot of, as well as that mood and mindset piece. Um, nutrition is always going to be there. There's always a lot of. Questions. Um, at our summer conference, we had a nutritionist come And speak to the students who attended and hands were raised throughout the entire presentation. They were so curious on how to better support the nutrition habits. But I was just at a school last week and was asking students like how many hours of sleep did you get last night? And students are saying 3, 4, 5 hours of sleep. And I asked them, I said, Regular like that just, wasn't a one-off thing that you had a rough night and they were like, Nope, I get at least four hours every night. Um, and that is mind boggling to me. So providing those educations and resources to let them know that sleep is so critical. For their development and their recovery, and trying to prevent injury and all sorts of things. That's definitely a big one and the mood and mindset is becoming really prevalent as well. Um, I was talking with John a few months ago, just really expanding on that and talking about mental wellness, as we've just seen such an increase in. Anxiety and depression and other mental illness and issues. So those are, I would say the two biggest components out of our science modules that are being heavily focused on.

Luke:

And what about some evidence of the success of the program that if I'm sitting here and going, oh, maybe I'm interested, not totally sold. Do you have any data points that you could, you could give to kind of prove, Hey, here's some evidence of, Hey this, this team now has increased their win total by 35%, this school has increased their test scores by whatever data points you want to look at it. Do you have anything like that?

Kaira:

Um, yeah, so I think as a, as a program, as a whole, right now, we don't have solid concrete data yet. Um, it's something that we're in the works of. It takes a lot of capacity and time to develop that kind of data. However, in the state of Illinois, there is a resource called the Illinois youth survey. And it's a free survey for high schools too. And we tend to help support the schools and evaluating that data to look at their trends. So while it may not be exactly to your point of looking at wins or looking at successes, we can kind of look at their habits and their behaviors and seeing if there's improvement or change, especially when it comes to, uh, substance use prevention. As we talk about that being one of our modules, um, there's questions on nutrition habits and there's questions. Behaviors when it comes to mental illness or anxiety. So, that illinois youth survey is a really good tool that we use to help support the schools and looking at how it's affecting their schools directly.

Luke:

Great. And I asked that question because I see your program as an enhancement to the process, and that's a big part of what we're trying to do within this podcast. This idea of focus on people for. And focus on that process of making better people, which at its core, that's what you guys do. And that's why I was excited to talk to you. But I do know that in this world outcomes do matter. Unfortunately, like we can't just focus on the intangible of why want to impact people. So coaches and schools alike are going to be judged on outcomes. And that was kind of the impetus behind my question. Is there any data points I'd be interested, interested to see as you continue to work on that scientific data piece? Because I do think it would be really helpful because there is that reality of outcomes.

Kaira:

Yes. Yes, absolutely. And anecdotally, I have a school that's been involved with us for about four years now. And the athletic director who takes charge of that has definitely seen a change. He used to talk about how he would go into the locker rooms or hear conversations of students choosing to make poor behaviors or poor decisions after football games going out to parties and that's just not a thing anymore, their school because of the culture that they've created based on HPP. They have a slogan in front of their school that says team teammate, self, and that they really need to think about as an athlete in that specific situation. What are my decisions and how are they impacting the other people on my team and how is that going to hurt everyone else if I choose to make this poor choice? So it's been really cool to see those things. Unfortunately, we don't have the core data or numbers behind that. Um, besides the IYS, but anecdotally we've definitely heard various points like that, that it's definitely shown improvement in their culture.

Luke:

And I think those anecdotes are important because that's who have a school reach out to you. You could put them in touch with that athletic director to say, here's our evidence. Here's our data. Talk to the people that actually use the program and get give you. Tangible examples, like you just did of how it is beneficial for them to utilize the project. So, what about, I know, and I'll list all this in our show notes as well, but what about your contact info for those from.

Kaira:

If anyone is interested in contacting me, they can reach me by email, which is kaira@ILHPP.org. Or by phone number eight four seven nine zero three nine seven seven.

Luke:

And what about our listeners who are not from Illinois that would be interested in pursuing life of an athlete.

Kaira:

I still think that they can contact me and I could maybe direct them to the appropriate individuals. Um, especially if I'm familiar with a state that they're from, I could co connect them directly with others who work in this state. Otherwise I'd be happy to connect them with John or with APS And get them the tools and the resources they're looking for.

Luke:

And before we, uh sign off here, are there any last anecdotal points you'd like to make that would be useful for our listeners to.

Kaira:

Yeah, I think I just want to wrap it up and just remind everyone of the resources and the tools that we can provide them. In case they're curious and want to learn more, um we can provide that one-on-one school chapter assistant. So if they do decide to develop a chapter where they're with them through every step of the way, um, we can help support those chapter startups, right from the very ground. We also have a ton of downloadable training modules that people can look at either our ILHPP academy or we have PowerPoints and presentations that individuals can download for free and present to their students or take on their own. And lastly, we do have a lot of in-person training opportunities. We have coaches clinics. Um, so if and coaches are listening, we offer coaches clinics at least two to three times a year. Right now virtually and in person opportunities. Um, and then we have our annual and mid-year conference for students and staff to attend as well. So we'd just love to be able to interact with some new schools and be able to answer any questions that anyone has about getting involved with.

Luke:

Great. Well, thanks for all that information Kaira and thanks for all the work you're doing and helping develop people make impacts and young people's lives. I do know there's a ton of benefit to what we're doing in the schools, combined with what you guys are doing. It's a, it's a. to team up and really help young people who, in my opinion, need more leadership now more than ever. And lastly, I have to ask you, I know you went to Alabama, I'm assuming you're a roll tide fan. I mean, how do you feel about the college football playoffs and should Alabama be in there?

Kaira:

Oh, wow. Um, yes, I'm actually like, you can't see it, but I have an Alabama sweatshirt on as we speak. Um, so roll tied to that. I'm very looking forward to the college playoff season. Uh, Alabama, you know, we had a tough loss a few weeks ago, but we're back in there? and ready to continue to make another potential at a championship. So very excited about that.

Luke:

Well, I think you're going to have your hands full with Georgia. And if that does not go your way, I am really interested to see what the committee is going to do because let's face it. There is a lot of love towards Alabama and maybe even a little bias as they say. So it's going to, it's going to be interesting, but, I'm all right with roll tide. If I went there, I would be a big fan to Kaira, I'm okay with it. I'm all right

Kaira:

perfect.

Luke:

as long as we get, as long as we get some big 10 or Notre Dame or something for the Midwest and there I'm all good.

Kaira:

Yeah, I can understand that for sure.

Luke:

All right, Kara. Thanks so much. It was good to talk with you again. And, all of our listeners out there, please reach out to Kaira, I think is a great underutilized resource for you to implement into your school. So thanks so much, Kaira.

Kaira:

Yeah. Thank you, Luke. Take care.

Kaira Klingler Profile Photo

Kaira Klingler

Prevention Specialist Project Lead

Kaira Klingler is the Project Lead of the Illinois Human Performance Project. From a young age, Kaira has had a passion for leadership development, helping others, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This stayed with her throughout her college experience at the University of Alabama where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on interpersonal relationships, addiction, and human growth and development. She began her career working with parents of young children which lead to her learning more about the world of prevention. After being in the prevention field for almost six years, she has continued to be inspired by her long-lasting passions. Kaira’s favorite aspect of the Illinois Human Performance Project is having the opportunity to enhance the well-being of young people through education. When she is not rooting on her college football team or in the office, Kaira enjoys spending time with her family and working on projects around her house!