Columbus Parkside Elementary School Works With 157th Soldiers on Fitness
Parkside Elementary School Enlists the Help of Neighboring SoldiersColumbus, Ind., called upon the neighboring Soldiers of the 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, of Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., on 18 and 20 Feb., to help be a part of the school's Healthy Hoosier Award Competition.
On two separate days, fifteen Soldiers and more than 200 fourth and sixth grade students participated in early morning boot camps with the goal of improving fitness and creating new bonds of friendship.
"There are always ways to improve our strengths and weaknesses and by having Soldiers here, it's been awesome because kids love them, we bond with them...and they are teaching us more about nutrition, fitness, and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle," said Ms. Nora Coleman, Physical Education Teacher at Parkside Elementary School.
"We care about the places our children are being raised and taught, and it is so important to build those relationships. We want to contribute to the wellness and fitness of all children, and this step is just the beginning," said Sgt. Maj. Mark Jackson, the 157th Brigade Operations Sergeant Major.
Riveted on the Soldiers, the students listened as the Soldiers taught each group military maneuvers called "Drill and Ceremonies." With commands such as "Attention," "Present Arms," "Right Face," and "Left Face," the children snapped into position like seasoned Soldiers.
"I think it was awesome; it was a really cool experience. I want to thank Camp Atterbury for letting us have this unique experience," said Emily Wessel, a fourth grader.
These new listening and execution activities became key to conducting a large group Army style physical fitness warm-up routine before the big work out. The students learned quickly and a mass of children became a cohesive group working in unison in a short time.
With the warm-up completed, each Soldier prepared with a team name and motivation, took charge of 10-12 students.
The workout consisted of 10 different stations with each exercise focusing on the different muscle groups and cardiovascular fitness. The teams participated in several rotations with each rotation time getting shorter and shorter.
"It was a hard and long workout, but I learned by looking at the Soldiers that fitness is for life," said Jarrett Embry, a sixth grader.
In 2011 - 2012, 113 elementary, middle and high schools received the 2011 - 2012 Healthy Hoosier School Award - the most ever. Action for Healthy Kids is a nationwide initiative dedicated to improving the health and educational performance of children through better nutrition and physical activity in school.
Last year, Parkside Elementary took first place out of 113 schools and is committed to seeing that they achieve their goals again with the help of the Soldiers from 157th Infantry Brigade.
Last year during an all school walk-a-thon, Coleman introduced herself to one of the new families of Parkside Elementary School. Finding that military connection with Col. Brandt H. Deck, Commander of the 157th Infantry Brigade and his family, Coleman began the dialogue of enlisting the help of Soldiers in the quest to compete in the Healthy Hoosier School Award.
"Today we have Soldiers that have volunteered from the units within the brigade to spend an hour and a half...doing a boot camp and a little drill and ceremonies, but it's mainly about practicing good habits of exercise, having a little fun, interacting and giving back to the school," said Deck.
At the end of both days, it was unclear which group had more fun, the Soldiers or the students.
"It was fun participating and giving back to our community. They give so much to us throughout the year with military appreciation days and the huge events such as Veterans Day," said Sgt. 1st Class John A. Roames, Operations Sergeant of 157th Infantry Brigade.
"I would like the Soldiers to come back again, and maybe do some other things with us," said Natalie Owings, a sixth grader.
With a new friendship and bond formed in a short time, Parkside Elementary School invited the Soldiers to take part in an upcoming Dr. Seuss reading event.
The Soldiers of 157th Infantry Brigade will add the partnership of Parkside Elementary School to its mission, in addition to training and mentoring Reserve Component units for deployment and contingency operations.
Related Support Our Troops, Read Their Stories News