New fitness park for Delaware students

Delaware students, grades K through 8, are pumping iron and toning their muscles at Newark Charter Elementary School.

The school officially opened its brand new fitness park, Thursday, which features a jogging trail and a variety of exercise stations for circuit training during recess. The school says its students were taught how to use all of the new equipment about two weeks ago.

“I love just playing on the monkey bars and then the balance beam over there. It’s great,” said 6th grader Ellis Dorr, out of breath after doing some vertical crunches.

“There are a couple stretching stations and one is like an overhead ladder, or what traditionally would be called monkey bars, there’s one for you to do sit-ups, there’s one for an abdominal crunch, there’s a chin up bar and so it offers a wide variety of activities between stretching and using your muscles to do an activity,” said Phys. Ed. teacher Karen Manniso.

A $30,000 DowGives grant paid for Newark Charter’s fitness park and will also fund an after school program, Girls on the Run. The program uses exercise and counseling to help pre-teen girls build their self-esteem and make healthy choices. 

“The idea here is to teach children, when they’re young, how to make good habits and how to make good, healthy choices so they keep these choices and remain healthy throughout their life,” said Dave Fogarty, with Dow.

Unlike other schools in Delaware, Newark Charter says it provides its K-8 with 25 minutes of recess each day. So when it was grant proposal time, the school asked its gym teachers and guidance counselors what they thought the school’s physical activity needs were, and the rest is history.

“I think it’s really fun because people can come out here for recess and then they can like get exercise more than just playing football or something,” said Phoebe Balascio, who’s in 8th grade.

“Some of the children are more geared towards that and it gives them the opportunity to move all during the 30 minutes of recess at their own speed, at their own pace in an activity that they enjoy,” Manniso said.

“It’s just great to see everybody out here getting fit and not just staying at home and watching TV,” 6th grader Michael Chen added.

Launched 12 years ago, DowGives awards grants each year. According to its website, DowGives “provides funding for projects that contribute to the success of local communities with the objective of making them better places to live and work.” 

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