The Rock Community Fire Protection District has developed a fitness challenge that may become part of some Fox C-6 School District students’ routine this school year.

Rock Fire Public Information Officer Alyson Barton worked with Sue Belleville, the Fox district’s child care services director, to introduce the program during one of the district’s Character Kids Club (CKC) camps in July.

Barton and Rock firefighters worked with students at the CKC’s Achieving Our Goals four-week camp at Rockport Heights Elementary School to help improve their physical fitness.

“Our fitness committee wanted to promote fitness in the school buildings,” Barton said. “We came up with the firefighter fitness challenge. It is to promote for the kids to get out, get moving and stay healthy.”

Belleville said the Rockport Heights camp was chosen for the pilot program because it had a sports theme.

At the camp, students learned how to play different sports and learned about the history of those sports, she said.

Belleville said the students who took part in the camp will enter fourth, fifth and sixth grade in various C-6 schools.

“This was an interesting pilot program,” she said. “We thought doing it at a camp was a great way to see how the kids would respond to it. The program incorporates teamwork, responsibility and dedicating themselves to improving their physical health. It also builds camaraderie with their peers. Overall, it was fantastic.”

The challenge

The firefighters were scheduled to work with the students every Thursday from July 6 through July 27, but the program was held just three times because rain on July 20 forced the workout session to be canceled.

Barton said she and up to four firefighters worked out with the students from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. during those sessions.

At the first session, students recorded how many push-ups and sit-ups they could complete, timed how long they could hold a plank position and timed how long it took them to complete a cone obstacle course.

She said the students worked on those exercise routines during each session, and the students also got to practice using a fire hose to knock over cones and how to carry a Rock Fire rescue manikin.

“Some of our firefighters would participate with them for a who did it better,” Barton said.

“It was to show the kids they could do just as well as a firefighter. They could do more push-ups or sit-ups than them and have fun with it.”

The fitness challenge was supposed to end with a competition between the students and firefighters that would include doing push-ups and sit-ups; holding plank poses; running a cones obstacle course; using a fire hose to knock over cones; and carrying a manikin as far as possible.

However, extreme heat on July 27 scrapped that plan, and instead, Barton and firefighter Lane Carl worked with the students in the gym to see how they improved on their push-ups, sit-ups, planks and cones obstacle course times.

“It was neat to see them make progress over a short period of time,” Barton said. “They were thrilled with their results.”

Doing more

Barton said she is creating a curriculum for the fitness challenge and will present it to the district’s elementary schools to use throughout the school year.

She said because Rock Fire already has a program for third grade students, she will create a fitness program for fourth and fifth grade students.

Barton said she would like to work with students once a week.

“I would really like to do it year-round,” she said. “We have to work on the facility aspect to make sure there is enough room they can spare an hour for. It will be something we figure out as we go.”

Belleville said she would recommend the program to building principals and physical education teachers.

“Can I say (students) were crazy about doing all kinds of physical exercises early in the morning? No, but (the firefighters) made it fun,” she said. “The kids did get into it.”

Belleville said if elementary schools are unable to run the fitness challenge during the school day, she has already talked with Barton about creating an after-school program.

“We would have kids participate for an hour or two after school once per week,” she said.

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