A school in Dubuque, Iowa, has found a brilliant way to teach students compassion as well as a way to help the elderly and the disabled in their community.
Rather than just lifting weights and running laps in P.E. class, students at the Alternative Learning Center get their workouts by doing yard work for those who have difficulty doing it themselves; for senior citizens and for people with disabilities. The school awards students with physical education credits after completing this wonderful form of community service.
The Alternative Learning Center is a school for high school juniors and seniors who are at risk of dropping out. As part of their curriculum, during the last two weeks of the semester students get to choose from several different activities which count towards P.E. credits. One of the options is helping to do yard work for those who can’t do it themselves.
They help with mowing yards, pulling weeds, planting flowers, cutting down bamboo, and even tending to chicken coops.
ALC’s Social Studies teacher, Tim, started the compassionate project four years ago when they first helped build a garden. Since then, it has turned into a way where students can connect with their community, build great moral values, and can help the elderly and people with disabilities with a variety of outdoor chores.
“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,” Tim explains.
Tim said that he added yard work as an option to his P.E. class because it was a possible way for their school to help those in need in their community. He also knows how beneficial it can be for students.
“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. What they really like is A: helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person,” he shared.
Tim says they also like seeing the finished product and feeling a sense of accomplishment after having helped someone. So much so that they often want to do it again. Tim shared with People magazine that;
“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.”
Tim’s and the ALC’s idea to combine physical education credits with community service for the elderly and the disabled is both brilliant and a win-win situation. Educating children to be kind and compassionate through real, concrete actions of helping others is immensely valuable for them, and will likely stick with students for the rest of their lives.
In our communities, all too often the elderly and people with disabilities are at risk of becoming socially isolated, and in becoming very lonely. By allowing students to earn credits by connecting with and being kind to our older generation, everybody wins. Let’s hope that more schools around our beautiful Earth adopt this same wonderful strategy.
If you think this is a great idea for schools to implement, please share this story with your friends and family on social media. Together, we can inspire the change.
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