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Friday, June 2, 2023

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Hilltop High students sprint towards the finish in a hurdle race. Hilltop High students sprint towards the finish in a hurdle race.

Sprinting Toward Fitness

Undergraduates from Exercise and Nutritional Sciences teach high school students how to stay fit.
By Ashley Vaughn

While track and field athletes around the world prepare for the summer 2012 Olympic Games in London, students at Hilltop High are playing the same sports to stay in shape.

Getting fit

For four days, San Diego State University students instructed 9th graders through a series of exercises. The fitness program consisted of eight popular track and field events, including a 50-yard dash, 4 x 100 meter relay, hurdles, long jump, high jump, javelin, discus and shot put.

SDSU students worked with groups of 10-12 students teaching basic techniques for the individual events, while assessing student behavior and motivation. Each track and field exercise lasted between about 12 minutes.

“Sometimes a different perspective from a college student is all a reluctant high schooler needs to participate in physical education,” said Ernie Zamudio, principal of Hilltop High School. “I witnessed our students being fully engaged by the activities provided by the SDSU students.”

It’s all part of a novel partnership between SDSU and the Sweetwater School District.

SDSU undergraduate students in the physical education teacher program, an Exercise and Nutritional Science course, implemented a unique program to engage high school students in physical activity.

Great results

The service learning project was developed in 2010 by SDSU professor Nicole Smith and Hilltop High physical education teacher Kimberly Butler. Teachers reported that several students who previously didn’t participate in class were involved and enjoying themselves.

A survey of the participants confirmed what program leaders had observed – notably, most students increased physical activity, enjoyed themselves and hoped the SDSU students would return to their school.

 “A real world experience allows students, such as ourselves, to put the whole package together,” said Joel Ruiz,who is majoring in Exercise and Nutritional Sciences.

“It does not get any better than this.”

More about the program

The SDSU physical education teacher education program exposes SDSU students to real life experiences at elementary schools and high schools.

Partners of the program include Green and Hardy Elementary Schools, as well as Hoover High School.  Program activities range from health fairs to designing inclusive, active and fun exercise routines.

In the fall, SDSU Exercise and Nutritional Sciences students will have the opportunity to provide 10-minute integrated fitness activities for students in transition from the classroom to recess.

“Everyone benefits from this program, “ said Smith, one of the programs creators.

“Undergraduate students get an authentic experience , which allows them to strengthen their professional network with other physical educators. Teachers benefit from having instructional support. The university and the school district benefit from maintaining a positive relationship. And the students learn how to stay fit.”