A school in Dubuque, Iowa, has found a clever way to teach students compassion as well as a way to assist their community’s elderly and disabled.

Forget dodgeball, football, or other dull sports. That school is exchanging these traditional physical education activities for yard work.

Students at the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) can now receive physical education credits when they assist senior citizens or people with disabilities with their landscaping needs.

L: Student working off PE credits and Tim Hitzler, teacher. (Alternative Learning Center)

ALC’s Social Studies teacher, Tim Hitzler, began the compassionate project four years ago when they first helped build a garden. Since then, it has turned into a way students can communicate with their community, build great moral values, and help the elderly and people with disabilities.

Tim Hitzler, a teacher at the Alternative Learning Center. (Alternative Learning Center)

Hitzler said that he and the students will be helping people with disabilities and the elderly with a variety of outdoor chores.

The students and I and other students come out and help them. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters—just depends on what they need,”he said.

Hitzler said that he added yard work as an opportunity for the students to earn physical education credits because it is the only way for the school to help the community. He also believes that it will be beneficial to the students as well.

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. What they really like is A: helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person,” he revealed.

Student in the Alternative Learning Center PE program. (Alternative Learning Center)
A student acquiring PE credits. (Alternative Learning Center)
Any yard work will earn PE credits. (Alternative Learning Center)

Hitzler and the ALC’s idea to integrate physical education credits with community service for the elderly and the disabled is both genius and a win-win situation. It is extremely valuable that children are educated about being kind and compassionate by concrete actions to help others and they will probably continue with students throughout their lives.

If you think this is a great idea for schools, please share this story with your friends and family. Together, we can inspire the change.

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