The Imago Dei School's participation in physical exercise has grown by leaps and bounds under the direction of Zach Schafer. He took what used to be a conditioning class which consisted of warm up, strength movements, jogging around campus, and games, and developed a full-on fitness program for students whose exercise is typically limited.
In a beautiful partnership with Dave Eastham, owner of Fitness Edge, Mr. Schafer was able to secure gym time three days a week free of charge. The gym is inside the LAVA facility, right next door to our campus.
The Fitness class last year was originally geared toward developing physical fitness for the students, but also working on life skills and only included the oldest three students led by Mr. Schafer. It evolved so that by the end of the year, the students (with plenty of preparation and mediation) were able to go into the gym and self direct their own workouts independently.
The IDS Fitness program now includes the entire IDS Logic School as well as the IDS Rhetoric and Transitions School going to the gym. In total, there are 14 students participating in Fitness, and the entire IDS Logic School staff of teachers and teachers assistants. So there are six adults there to assist the 14 students in the gym.
For younger students the goals are more geared towards the physical, while for older students, there is an added element of "Life Skills" purposed for the program. Physical activity and fitness are critical for overall wellness, and have been shown to have tremendous cognitive benefits (for all individuals). The program is designed to enhance our students' lives physically, cognitively and emotionally. In the process there is the added benefit of working on different aspects of social skills and other elements of their education.
The goals of the program are to establish familiarity with physical activity, hopefully to develop life long fitness habits, and to help develop the life skills needed to operate independently in a gym/fitness environment.
IDS Logic School teacher Jessica Escorza says that the students have adapted so well to this entire experience and that the adaptive exercises all involve functional movements that can be tracked and monitored as the year goes on. She says it's fun to hear comments like "I am going to grow some muscles!!!!" "Time to get our sweat on!!" and "Oh yeah fitness time!!"