Thursday, July 15, 2004

Obstacle course teaches teamwork

Marine ROTC track challenges kids with drills, tug-of-war

By Natalie Morales
Enquirer staff writer

Alyssa Guidugli (left) and Reasia Weathington run the three-legged race during competition among students Wednesday in the Covington Summer Youth Program at Holmes High School.
COVINGTON - Fifth-graders Shannon Sullivan and Hayley Stewart said crossing the finish line of an obstacle course at Holmes High School's track together taught them about teamwork, hard work and commitment.

The girls were among about 80 first- through fifth-graders from Latonia, Sixth District and Carlisle elementary schools in the Covington Summer Youth Program. They spent Wednesday on an obstacle course designed by the high school's U.S. Marine Corps Jr. ROTC.

That entailed crawling under hurdles, balancing on benches and pulling on a rope in a tug-of-war.

"You learn how to work with each other and how to wait for each other," said Sullivan, 10, a Latonia Elementary student. "It's hard, because sometimes you get aggravated because you have to wait for each other - even if someone falls."

The ROTC members made sure the students knew finishing together was more important than finishing first.

"I think they're gaining the ability to work together with other students," said Ray Jackson, an ROTC member who will be a senior this fall. "They can also see that there are people out there in the community who care about them and want to see them do good in life."

Getting kids to become more active rather than sitting around all day was another positive aspect for the students, said Jackson, of Covington.

The focus of this year's program is physical fitness, said Maurice Murriel, the program's family safety outreach coordinator.

The kids in the program have spent the past two months practicing for the obstacle course, which was the last event for the summer.

"I incorporated different military fitness programs," Murriel said. The kids did push-ups, sit-ups and other workouts to help them prepare for the big event.

"They're learning to do things outside, instead of most kids today, who do things like sit and play on their computers or their PlayStations," he said. "We wanted them to do something active."

The ROTC students said that from planning the event to working one-on-one with the kids, they learned, too.

"Me and my peers are learning how to be good role models and what good role models high school kids should be for younger kids," Jackson said.


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