Physical education teachers use community events to showcase their program can also double as key fundraising events, helping purchase new instruments that can help students develop lifelong skills to manage their health and fitness.
Maize South Middle School (Kan.) PE teacher Brandon Wolff created his Bull Rush event to inspire a renewed commitment to effort for his students to put in health-enhancing work during class.
“One of the things we saw a few years ago was that kids weren’t giving us any effort,” Wolff said. “They just got their fitness tests done without worrying about the score. We came up with the idea to do an obstacle course at the end of the year.”
When the PE teacher first introduced the idea to his students, they were intrigued. Then Wolff told them they needed to qualify to take part in the event by scoring well on the assessments that measure the five key health-related fitness elements in his curriculum:
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Body composition
“We really wanted to find a challenge for them in all of these areas since those are the areas they are working on all year long,” Wolff said.
The inaugural event, held in 2015, saw 280 students earn the right to take part. Wolff and his colleagues created a course on the school’s grounds, with obstacles donated and sponsored by local businesses. Community members – parents, mostly – watched with awe as their children put their fitness on display. More than once, Wolff overheard encouraging feedback.
“The Bull Rush was such a huge success with our students,” Wolff said. “One of the biggest [pieces of] feedback we got from parents was, ‘man, I wish I could run in that.’ When I kept hearing that, I went to my co-worker and said, ‘I think we’ve got something here.”
The feedback proved doubly important as Wolff needed to raise money to add PE heart rate monitors to his program. Wolff turned the next Bull Rush into a two-day community event. Students who qualified ran the course on Friday. On Saturday, interested community members paid $25 for the opportunity to run the course.
“It was huge for us,” Wolff said. “We raised about $3,000 for the public run. At the same time, a grant for $7,600 from our educational foundation came through. We were able to take all of that and put it toward heart rate monitors. We made it happen.”
Wolff added the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors, along with the IHT Spirit System software, to his program. Students wear the heart rate monitors during his PE classes and receive immediate feedback about their exertion levels. Wolff pushes students to exercise in their target heart rate zone for a set amount of time. Students can see which zone they are exercising in on their wrist, along with their heart rate. Following class, they automatically receive and email with a detailed report that includes:
- A graph displaying their heart rate throughout the session
- Minutes spent exercising in each heart rate zone and
- Total time spent in the target heart rate zone
The Bull Rush became Wolff’s signature community event. Other teachers have hosted their own fundraisers, some using the IHT Zone heart rate monitors, to raise funds for their programs.
Teachers in San Antonio and Pflugerville, Texas each hosted IHT Fitfest events to add heart rate monitors to their curriculum, and more are scheduled for the Spring. On May 19, Fort Madison High School (Iowa) is holding a FitFest to raise money for additional heart rate monitors, and schools in Chicago and Colorado have events on tap in the coming weeks.
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