These Students Earn P.E. Credit By Doing Yard Work For The Elderly And Disabled

by Christina Marfice

This Iowa school’s P.E. program is a major help to the community

At an alternative high school in Dubuque, Iowa, students have the opportunity to get outside, get their school credits, and help their community — all at the same time.

Alternative Learning Center offers a unique part of its curriculum that allows students to choose from a list of approved activities to do during the last two weeks of school to earn their P.E. credit. One of those options is volunteering to do yard work for people in the community who are disabled, elderly, or otherwise unable to do the work themselves.

The initiative is led by ALC teacher Tim Hitzler, who told local news stations that the students can do just about any job a community member needs to be done.

“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 News.

This is a super simple way for these kids to give back to their community, which is a learning opportunity that extends far beyond the classroom. Research has shown that doing this kind of work when they’re young makes kids compassionate and empathetic. “Volunteering is […] associated with the development of greater respect for others, leadership skills, and an understanding of citizenship that can carry over into adulthood,” a Child Trends DataBank report reads.

Plus, it helps out people who need it. That’s a win-win if we ever saw one.

Hitzler mentioned in interviews with news outlets that he was excited about this program specifically because it’s beneficial to both the kids and the entire Iowa community where they live.

“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 helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person. We get to give back to the community, but the kids feel a sense of accomplishment, too.”

The 2019 school year is already over, and so is Alternative Learning Center’s yard work program. But it’ll be back next spring, just in time for the community to get their yards freshened up for another summer. And by then, we hope to see programs like this cropping up in communities all over the country, because it’s kind of genius.