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Fitness or Fundraiser: Why Not Do Both?

Exercise Helps Students Learn and Supports School

Two more things are certain in life: Children who stay fit do better at school — and you have to fund-raise for your child’s school.

Savannah Rehfeldt races a friend on the agility course
Savannah Rehfeldt races a friend on the agility course

Both were accomplished at at the Middle School Fitness Palooza recently when students zumba-danced, played ultimate Frisbee, jumped hurdles, saw how agile they were and more while raising $14,000 for the school.

“It’s important,” Natalie Alden said about keeping fit. “You don’t want to grow up to be a couch potato.”

One of the rules for the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students participating in the event was that they could not stop moving.

“The idea is that we raise money while promoting lifelong fitness, a win-win,” said Principal Brian Balding.

Many studies and much research has been done on how exercise helps students’ brains. They’ve found children’s grades improve, they perform better on tests, attention spans lengthen, memory and learning is improved, stress is reduced and attention deficit disorder is reduced.

Britain Moore gets in the swing of things
Britain Moore gets in the swing of things

The brain-building and fun on the high school football field was mixed with friendly competition. Savannah Rehfeldt and Halli Bickford challenged one another several times on the agility course, ending each race by falling to the ground and laughing.

Students not only got exercise but learned new skills, especially at the hurdle station. Science teacher Randy Stehlik encouraged the students when they started with “butt up, butt up, butt up” advice before they started their race.

Definitely Healthier Than Candy

This was the second year for the event, organized by parents who wanted to try something other than magazine and candy-sale fundraisers.

“Prizes were sometimes candy, which was totally unhealthy,” said Kristen Cove, a mother and school board member.

Ken Jefferson, a volunteer and personal trainer, supervised the agility training, which was a little like an obstacle course made of speed ladders and cones.

Natalie Alden, with teacher Travis Alden, feels good when she gets outside and plays disc golf
Natalie Alden, with teacher Travis Alden, feels good when she gets outside and plays disc golf

“What I’m doing with it is teaching agility and how to be quick with your feet,” Jefferson said. “Learning different ways to stay fit is important and it’s for a lifetime.”

Sixth-grader Riley McNutt liked doing the obstacle course and the hurdles. “You’re having fun while being active,” he said.

At the zumba lessons, Olivia Aspinall said she was a little scared she wouldn’t be able to figure out the moves. But she urged classmates who were hesitant, “Just try it, it’s fun.” And before long, a classmate who took her advice was yelling “Wooo-wooo! I got it!”


How Exercise Can Boost Young Brains

A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind: Along with physical strength, a little exercise helps kids build brainpower

Students learned how to jump hurdles
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Linda Odette
Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio or email Linda.


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