Read on to see how St. Cloud MSB instructor Chris Haukos made a difference to both MSB students and a local elementary school!
Amy: Tell me about your HS 321 Principles of Child Fitness class.
Chris: I’ve been doing children’s programming for years and I have some wonderful connections within the community.
Amy: Is that how you got the idea to work with a local elementary school?
Chris: Yes. I connected with BLEND (a childhood obesity coalition in St. Cloud) to seek out an audience and a venue that would allow us to design a program. I had three organizations with interest, but when I met with the principal at the Lincoln Elementary school, I knew it would be a perfect fit.
Amy: I imagine other MSB instructors teaching Principles of Child Fitness would like to emulate this wonderful idea! How did you approach the elementary school? Do you have any suggestions for instructors looking for similar opportunities?
Chris: I would recommend seeking out low-income organizations, calling supervisors and having a plan of action in mind prior to any meetings. I basically gave the principal a five-week plan and he was thrilled that we were willing to come into his school and offer this service at no cost. The only obstacle I encountered was background checks – students will need one before being able to work with children in any school setting.
Amy: I really like the hands-on approach this affords MSB students. Instead of only reading theory on youth fitness and activity, your students actually got in there and did it. What were your goals with this project?
Chris: I wanted to give students a “real life” experience that could be added to their resume. Additionally, my goal was to show the value in volunteering and contributing to the community. I also wanted the students to experience ownership of a program and to take pride in what they did.
Amy: Did you accomplish your goals?
Chris: This program turned out to be much more than I anticipated! The MSB students were amazing, the elementary school kids were incredible, and working with the teachers was wonderful. None of the MSB students had ever worked in this type of environment before, so this allowed them to gain the understanding of what truly goes into programming for youth.
Amy: Sedentary children, Type II diabetes, and childhood obesity pose significant problems to the well-being of children and the future of our health care system. I believe that there are currently 25 million overweight or obese children in the United States. Did the children you worked with have gym class? Recess?
Chris: We went to the elementary school twice a week for two hours. However, as one MSB student said, “The two hours of moving and having fun meant two fewer hours of television for many of these kids.”
Amy: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this experience?
Chris: The school was ecstatic about our involvement and invited us back for future programs. Collaboration and building relationships in the community is so important. Finding time to seek out such opportunities takes effort, but it is worth it in the long run.
Amy: Sounds like a win-win situation to me! Thank you for all you do, Chris, and thanks to the MSB students who made such a difference in the lives of the children at Lincoln Elementary.
MSB instructor Chris Haukos