By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
COLLEGEVILLE >> Whether it’s side to side or up and down; teachers are encouraging students to literally climb the walls during school.
Holy Cross Regional School is using a rock climbing wall to teach children a fun way to exercise. Principal Theresa Healy said the wall fits in perfectly with the school’s wellness policy.
“Health and wellness is extremely important especially for elementary students,” she said.
Students of all ages use the rock wall for physical education. Healy said lesson plans are created for kindergarten through eighth grade classes.
“They absolutely love it,” she said.
Physical education teacher Stacy Mauer said the wall teaches students both fitness and life skills. The wall helps them work on their strength, endurance and flexibility, she said. Mauer said the rock climbing lessons also teach students about problem solving and perseverance because they have to figure out where to place their hands and feet next.
Mauer uses games to help students get the most out of the climbing experience. Similar to Simon Says, she gives students directions on which way to move on the wall.
Fifth grade student Lindsay Arezina said “I like that we play games and I like that we have to learn to use our upper (body) strength.”
Many other students in Arezina’s class also think the rock wall is fun and said they’ve learned a lot through the experience. Mia Tarone and Mia Karalius side moving in a side-to-side motion makes climbing the wall exciting. Jacob McNielly said he’s rock climbed before but never to the side before he started doing so at school. Several students said moving sideways is a lot harder than just climbing up.
“You have to have strong legs,” Giuliana D’Orazio said.
“I kind of like how you have to really use your legs and stretch,” Brenan Kenning said.
“You have to think before you climb,” Catherine Dawson said.
Student Tim Regan said the different colored rocks make climbing more challenging because they represent different levels of difficulty. Fifth grader Kidder Urban said he was excited to use the wall in gym because he naturally likes to climb on things.
Students have enjoyed the rock wall since the beginning of the school year after it was transported from Sacred Heart Parish in Royersford. Sacred Heart Pastor Peter DiMaria said the wall was brought to the parish several years ago to provide students with more physical activities. Sacred Heart students now attend classes at Holy Cross School since it regionalized. Healy said with the help of a Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation grant; the wall was moved from Sacred Heart to the Holy Cross School gym in August.
“The rock wall was something that was so very important for students at Sacred Heart and we wanted to continue that,” she said.
Healthy said the wall is a valuable learning tool that helps students like exercise. Parent Jennifer Phillips said her son along with the other students really enjoy climbing the wall.
“They’re so excited. It’s incorporating fitness with fun and you can’t beat that,” she said.