Iowa students are earning PE credit by helping the elderly and people with disabilities

Iowa students participated in a unique way to help out their community- they got people’s yards ready for the summer and earned PE credit while they were at it.

High school students from the Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque, Iowa have spent their last two weeks before the summer break doing very community-friendly, voluntary work. Namely, helping the elderly and people with disabilities to tidy up their gardens.

Tim Hitzler, the social studies teacher who, in fact, started the program said:

“Once kids do it once, they wanna do it again. It’s good for them to learn real-life skills. They work hard, it’s not easy. They’re sweating when they’re done.”

The school gives its students the opportunity to choose from various activities in the last two weeks of school which would count towards their PE credit, Mike Cyze, a spokesperson for the Dubuque Community School says.

While Hitzler watched over the yard work program, however, students also participated in tasks such as cleaning up golf courses and a river barge.

The social studies teacher also explains that the program was initiated four years ago when students were encouraged to work alongside their instructor in the school garden. Ever since they have had the task to look after the garden for about 2 hours each day of the last week of studies.

Hitzler, therefore, says the following:

“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.” 

He also adds to the situation, explaining:

“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. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”

It is said that 29 ALC students have participated in the service program as part of their PE credit, while 12 of them specifically signed up for yard work.

As per the teachers, the program has gathered quite a ‘community-building’ reputation, as community members have invited students over for dinner in gratitude for their helpful service.

In actuality, some students have shown interest and have volunteered to continue their work for the community over the summer days.

“I’ve had students that graduated that have come back to help. There’s something about helping people that really need it.”

Hitzler lastly mentions that he uses his own pickup truck for the cause, as well as his own yard tools and some from the school, too.

He confesses that he is surprised that the project has gained so much attention on social media.

He states:

“It’s been amazing, the attention this has gotten. I think it’s because it’s such a simple idea.

You can see the students at work in the photos below!

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