Remember phys ed. in high school? It was a nightmare. You had to spend a sweaty hour in musty gym clothes running laps or getting pelted with dodgeballs or half-heartedly playing flag football, all while a grown man in shorts shouted and blew a whistle. To make things worse, everyone was in the awkward throes of puberty and—let’s be honest—no one wanted to be there.
A high school in Iowa figured out a genius way to improve upon the traditional (and traditionally bad) high school P.E. experience. The Alternative Learning Center, a school for at-risk teens in Dubuque, is allowing their students to get P.E. credits by volunteering to do yard work for elderly and disabled folks in the community.
Tim Hitzler, who teaches at the high school, talked to a local news station about the kinds of work the students would be doing.
“The students and I and other students come out and help them. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need,” Hitzler told KWWL.
According to Hitzler, students in the program are wary of the labor involved at first, but warm up to the idea once they see the difference they’re making. “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,’ he said. “What they really like is A: helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”
It definitely sounds more rewarding than running suicides in a stifling gymnasium, and the community gets something out of it too.