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Wofford students help Arcadia elementary students get active

ArcadiaElementary 
Children play soccer during the "Olympics" day at the Get Moving Running Club at Arcadia Elementary School, in Spartanburg, Tuesday evening. Students at Wofford College created the health and fitness after-school program at the school. Photo credit: TIM KIMZEY/tim.kimzey@shj.com 

By Felicia Kitzmiller
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published December 5, 2012
 

For about two dozen kids at Arcadia Elementary School, "The Ball Game" is the best game ever.

The rules are simple.

"Basically we punt the ball as far as we can and they run after it," said Wofford College junior Katherine Kelly. "They haven't figured out yet it's exercise."

Kelly and fellow Wofford students Chelsey Lawrence, junior, and Stacey Mangan, sophomore, play "The Ball Game" and other physically active games with 20 to 30 Arcadia Elementary students three days each week for about an hour after school. The Get Moving program led by the Wofford trio started in October as a running club, but evolved when the girls learned more about the students they were trying to reach.

"We're just trying to motivate the kids to get active," Lawrence said. "We found out they love soccer and they love the ball game, so we changed the plan. They don't realize they are probably running three miles each day."

Get Moving fulfills a program requirement for the Wofford students, but the mission isn't academic, it's to inspire students to take an active role in their health. Health and fitness is a cause close to each of the Wofford students.

"My parents always had me in sports," said Mangan, a cross country athlete at Wofford. "So we wanted to bring it to Arcadia where a lot of the kids don't have that opportunity."

Fourth and fifth grade students participate in Get Moving. It was an age the girls felt students would be able to understand the message and put it to use as they gain independence and make choices for themselves.

"It's a critical time for them," Lawrence said. "They are about to go into middle school and we want to increase their confidence and awareness so they don't have problems later."

The program also addresses nutrition, something the girls said was a bit more challenging. Arcadia Elementary serves a typically low-income, high-need community. A large percent of the students receive free or reduced price lunches. At home, Lawrence said she and her teammates understand the students' choices are limited. That's why they try to promote making the healthiest choice possible. For instance, one of their largest nutrition lessons was done via a pizza party. The girls encouraged students to choose the healthiest options, for example wheat crusts, vegetable toppings and low-fat cheese. In place of candy for prizes, they hand out granola bars.

On Wednesday, Principal Chuck Bagwell stopped by to watch the Get Moving Olympics — the culmination of the semester's activities. There was a soccer game, an egg and spoon race, a four square tournament and a sprinting competition.

"It is something good for the kids, and I think for the Wofford students, as well," Bagwell said. "The students love the attention they have gotten from the college kids. Our kids thrive on that."

Get Moving is one of several programs at Arcadia that bring college students into the school to interact with students. The interaction with college students is at least equally as important as what Kelly, Mangan and Lawrence are trying to teach in terms of fitness and nutrition, Bagwell said.

"One thing we try to tell our students is college is available and they can go there. It's not pie in the sky, it's a reality," he said.

Lawrence and Kelly will be studying abroad next semester, but Mangan is going to continue the Get Moving program with the assistance of other Wofford volunteers.



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