An alternative learning center in Dubuque, Iowa is helping its kids stay physically fit while helping out their community with a new program that gives them high school PE credit for doing yard work for the elderly and disabled.
The Alternative Learning Center is for high school juniors and seniors who are at risk of dropping out of school. As part of the program, the teens visit homes of the elderly and disabled and help out by raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, and cleaning gutters.
Teacher Tim Hitzler created the program because it helps the students get involved in the community while helping those who need it most.
Because lawn work is so physically intense and not everyone can afford a gardener, the elderly and disabled sometimes have to let their lawns and backyards grow wild.
Students can also choose from a number of other activities in order to fulfill their P.E. requirement, such as cleaning up golf courses or a river barge. But about 29 teens signed up for the service program altogether, with about 12 of those wanting to do yard work specifically.
Students who choose to help can do a number of chores to earn credits in their final two weeks of school.
The landscaping program, in particular, has proven beneficial both for the students and the community. It has helped in building relationships, too, resulting in social invitations to the students from those they are working for. The students do whatever homeowners need for about two hours a day during the last few school weeks, including raking, pulling weeds, cleaning gutters, cutting bamboo — even tending to chicken coops.
“Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need,” Hitzler said.
The school reportedly teaches high school students who are struggling to complete their education and are at risking of dropping out.
“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,” Hitzler continued.
“What they really like is a, helping people,” he added. “They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”