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Students are earning PE credit by doing yard work for the elderly and the disabled

The innovative program started by a teacher has encouraged students to help tend yards of those who are not able to do it by themselves.

Students are earning PE credit by doing yard work for the elderly and the disabled
Representational Image: Using lawnmower in front yard/Getty Images

An innovative PE program in Dubuque, Iowa has seen students help out elderly and disabled residents in their neighborhood for credits. The students at the Alternative Learning Center are earning their physical education credits by tending to yards of the elderly or those with disabilities, according to a report by Yahoo News. The Alternative Learning Center caters mainly to juniors and seniors that stand the risk of dropping out. Students are offered project-based learning opportunities that help them work towards graduation. Schools typically handout PE credits for physical activities such as dodgeball, soccer, etc. The program also deviates from the traditional school curriculum and it helps students to gain skills that can help them in their day-to-day lives. 


"In Iowa, alternative education is a perspective, not a procedure or a program. It is based upon a belief that there are many ways to become educated, as well as many types of environments and structures within which this may occur," reads the Iowa Department of Education's website. "Further, it recognizes that all people can be educated and that it is in society's interest to ensure that all are educated." Tim Hitzler, the ALC teacher behind the innovative program, said students can do any work that benefits the community, to earn their PE credits. Hitzler mostly accompanies the students as they go about their work. “The students and I ... come out and help. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need," said Tim Hitzler, according to KWWL News. 


The ALC PE program also helps students be aware of their surroundings and the living conditions of those in the neighborhood. Working with the elderly, disabled, and less fortunate will make young kids more compassionate and empathetic. Not to mention that the works benefit those who find it difficult or are incapable of carrying out the tasks themselves. Tim Hitzler said the students weren't too eager when the program was started but have slowly warmed up to it. "The students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning but once they get involved and start doing the yard work they become more motivated,” said Hitzler. “What they really like is helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person. We get to give back to the community, but the kids feel a sense of accomplishment, too.” 


“I’ve had students that graduated that have come back to help. There’s something about helping people that really need it,” said Hitzler, according to People. “It’s been amazing, the attention this has gotten. I think it’s because it’s such a simple idea.” A Facebook user wrote on a video: The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you will like it out there. :)  

Woman watering flowers in the garden with a watering can— Representational image


Under the PE program at the Iowa school, students are offered the chance to use the last weeks out classes to help out in the community, for their credits. The common activities are mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, raking leaves, chopping firewood, and weeding the garden. The Alternative Learning Center's PE program and yard work have come to an end with the close of the year. The program will continue every year and students from ALC will step out once again next spring.

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