Opportunities abound for educational ‘exercise’

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To the Editor:

I am not a parent of a student at J.P. King Middle School or Franklin High School, but would love to offer some input on how to spend a portion of the money the city received for after-school activities.

I couldn’t have been more excited to learn that we had received such a nice grant because I have recently been exploring opportunities for after-school programs. Outside of organized sports, there are not many activities for our youth.

Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight County are rich in history and natural resources that could be combined into an amazing program in non-competitive “educational exercise.”

The Nat Turner Trail could be a wonderful bike route with more historical signs for reading about the events and stops for a designed stretch (yoga) or exercise station. The Blackwater and Nottoway rivers are some of the most scenic rivers I’ve ever seen in the world, and they are a perfect environment to learn how to kayak. Paddling is an extremely good core workout, and like biking, everyone can do it and make it as physically demanding as one desires.

Our rivers are a unique ecosystem, and students would have the opportunity to learn about various tree species, wildlife and the environmental importance of our river system. These outings are also great opportunities for photography.

Climbing is a full-body workout as well, and even though we do not have the geographical benefits of mountains for bouldering and climbing in Franklin, a climbing wall, Alpine Tower, or ropes course can be as much fun and just as challenging. Climbing takes teamwork, and completing a certain “route” can be a great sense of accomplishment.

We come from an agricultural-based economy, and teaching students about the value of eating healthy and exercising could also be displayed in an organic gardening program. With childhood obesity on the rise, there is no better way to alleviate this dilemma than educating the youth about the importance of what they eat, by teaching them how to grow their own food.

Ideally, this program would or could be a part of after-school programs for Franklin Public Schools, Southampton Public Schools, Isle of Wight Public Schools as well as all of the private schools in the areas and any student who is home-schooled as well. This program would not only encourage students from all of the schools to work together from a young age, which would create better leaders for our region, but it would encourage the schools to work together in sharing the resources that we have.

A proposal like this would certainly cost money, but it would create a few new jobs that would bring young, energetic people to the area and utilize the natural resources that we are blessed with. If our students had this opportunity, their parents could also use the facilities, which would make relocating to this area more attractive to small entrepreneurs. Franklin City Public Schools have received a generous grant that would help put this into motion, but there are other resources in the community that could certainly contribute as well.

Marshall Rabil