Summer program gets kids off the couch and into the gym
With the national attention that First Lady Michelle Obama has placed on physical fitness and this country’s battle against the bulge, it’s no surprise more and more local parents are pushing their kids off the couch and into the gymnasium.It’s not a big struggle, though, for most parents whose children are enrolled in Gothenburg’s Fit Kids program.
“The kids really look forward to it,” says director Jonathan Meyer, a sixth-grade teacher leading his fourth summer of Fit Kids.
The program offers a variety of sessions for different age groups including simple fitness, basketball instruction, power and speed development and a 3-on-3 basketball league.
Beginning next month, volleyball skill development will replace basketball for most participants.
“We’ve tried to offer football but there just wasn’t enough interest,” Meyer said.
The program is Meyer’s brainchild, something he came up with the summer before student teaching for his education degree.
While still living in Broken Bow, Meyer approached that city’s summer recreation director with a plan for Fit Kids and it was immediately successful.
After his first year teaching in Gothenburg, Meyer took the idea to the District 20 school board.
“It has grown quite a bit,” Meyer said.
In the first three years, Meyer said he averaged 80 students between first and eighth grades.
This year, enrollment is at 125.
“Parents have been very positive,” Meyer said. “This whole community just seems to be supportive and it has worked out well.”
As he has become more comfortable, Meyer has added programs.
This year he sweetened the deal with volleyball and 3-on-3 basketball.
“It was originally just fitness,” he said. “We worked on overall body movements, exercise and hand-eye coordination.”
That is still part of the fitness sessions, along with other options.
Students may choose to participate in basketball training sessions as well where they learn the basic skills associated with the sport. They can also choose to be in a 3-on-3 competition league.
“It seemed like there was a lot of demand for basketball,” Meyer said.
In addition, there are power/speed development sessions which take students into the weight room.
Beginning in July, volleyball will replace most of the basketball sessions. Meyer has recruited Becky Costello and Michelle Stienike to help with instruction.
Each session costs $30 per participant with a $100 cap per family.
Meyer said he tries to keep the cost down so that money isn’t an excuse for not participating.
“The whole idea is to help kids develop and give them sound skills as they grow up so they’re not learning everything new when they get into junior high,” Meyer said. “Plus, it gets them off the couch.”