Hampton Elementary School partners with Sidekick Therapy to create outdoor activity path

Published 6:04 pm Friday, September 4, 2020

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Exercise is more valuable to learning that you may know.
According to Joy Garnder, a physical education teacher and coach at Hampton Elementary School, PE was greatly limited by the virus. 
“When we came back to school, even when we began virtually, we knew that students weren’t going to be able to use equipment, even outdoor, because of the CDC’s recommendations,” she said. “So it’s limited PE with what you can do. We decided we wanted to create something that was engaging and motivating for the students.”
After researching, Gardner saw many benefits involved with exercise and learning. Exercise, vigorous in particular like aerobic, helps students. According to her notes, exercise helps in preparing a child to learn and also retain it. Likewise, exercise is helpful with mental health struggles like stress.
Gardner set out to create something of multiuse that would not just be for her class. Sidekick Therapy was then consulted and partnered to help with the design. The aim was to create aerobic activities that would benefit most kids across different ages and ability levels. 
And thus, the Outdoor Activity Path was born. 
“The course is designed to include as much aerobic activity as possible,” she said. 
According to Garnder, she follows educators online and has seen similar designs. Keeping these ideas in mind, and the goals for the project, the course was created. 
“The uniqueness of the course is that yes we are painting it and it’s in stone, but the activities can be varied,” she said. 
The activities are interchangeable for different age groups for things like levels of difficulty, etc.
Originally this path was created with chalk to see if kids were interested, and support was backed. Gardner said none of this could’ve been done without the help of the school’s partner, Sidekick Therapy. The PE Department and Sidekick Therapy ultimately painted the course together on Thursday into Friday morning. Gardner describes this accomplishment as a team effort. 
Gardner said the school and Sidekick Therapy all shared the common goal of wanting to help kids. 
In addition to work on the outdoor activity course, Gardner also went virtual to aid other students in staying active. Gardner is on TikTok where she shares dances, etc. with her students. Her username is hescoachg. 
Gardner concluded by saying this new activity path has been a solution to a major dilemma. 
“Basically this was a remedy for the pandemic because we were scrambling to find things that kids could do to keep them moving and engaged during regular class and PE,” she said. “This was like the answer to our prayers.”

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