Iowa Students Earn PE Credit by Doing Yard Work for People With Disabilities and the Elderly

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The biggest and best lessons we learn in life as students aren’t always found in the classroom.

Oftentimes it’s when we get out in the world and get our hands dirty that we make the biggest difference, and learn the most in life.

Whether that means building a house or helping a neighbor with something as simple as cleaning or going grocery shopping, the most important thing to note is that helping others gives us the best lessons, and the most satisfaction.

Recently, one school in Iowa adopted a program that has people across social media talking.

It involves a program that allows the students to trade their time for physical education (PE) credits in a way that is beneficial not just to the mind and the body, but also to their sense of self and connection to their neighbors.


“It’s Been Amazing, the Attention this has Gotten”

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Photo via Alternative Learning Center

The program has made national news headlines and captured the attention of locals according to Tim Hitzler, the social studies teacher who helped make it happen.

“Once kids do it once, they wanna do it again. It’s good for them to learn real-life skills,” Hitzler said to People Magazine.

“They work hard, it’s not easy. They’re sweating when they’re done.”


The Dubuque, Iowa District school’s curriculum allows students to choose from several activities during the last two weeks that will count toward their PE credit according to Mike Cyze, a spokesperson for the District. Hitzler oversaw the yard work program, while other students cleaned up golf courses and a river barge, Cyze said.

Some students even volunteered to continue the program during the summer months. They loved the simplicity of the program, which allowed them to get their hands dirty and help out neighbors in need.

Chores included in the program included cutting grass, pulling weeds, raking leaves, and cleaning gutters.

“It’s been amazing, the attention this has gotten,” Hitzler said to People. “I think it’s because it’s such a simple idea.”

Others graduate, and then come back to help later. It truly is a program that has brought out the best in those it has touched.

“I’ve had students that graduated that have come back to help,” Hitzler tells PEOPLE. “There’s something about helping people that really need it.”

Eventually, the program became a community building project, the proud teacher added.


Students Lend a Helping Hand for PE Credits as Proud Teachers Look On

iowa kids yard work 

Students eventually made the program into a whole day affair, and it brought a sense of community that had been lacking in the area.

They began having dinner and cookouts with locals. Many students warmed up to the program over time, even if they weren’t exactly keen on it in the early going, Hitzler said.

woman kid

“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.

“They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”


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