TYLER (KYTX) - Home-schooled children in East Texas are learning an appreciation for exercise in a special program at UT Tyler. It's called the Patriot Academy for Physical Activity. In this week's Fit City Success story, his program is promoting active lifestyles one child at a time.
Instructors say the Patriot Academy is more than just exercise. It's a powerful combination of physical activity and education. You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but Berean Matthews was born 9 weeks early.
"We were told any time she went to learn something she would have difficulties and I thought, no and when we sat down to do school, she really did," says Tonya Matthews. "She would have what I call blank slate days. You would sit and learn and the next thing you know-- it was like a chalk board had been erased."
Berean's mom knew there was a connection between playing and learning. So, Tonya Matthews, turned to the Patriot Academy. "I take notes in class and when we go home, we incorporate it. I enjoy it as much as she does," says Matthews.
PE Teacher at the Patriot Academy, Judy Stanley says, "All learning passes through pathways that we first learned through movement." Judy Stanley teaches the class twice a week with the help of UT Tyler Physical Education students. "I want them to enjoy movement for movement's sake. I want it to be a base for those who want to do competitive athletics, just to have an overall view of the importance of activity and in the community-- running, swimming," says Stanley.
One of the things they work on at the Patriot Academy is fine motor skills. For instance with this tennis ball they are learning how to transfer to different hands, but more than anything they just want it to be fun.
"Because we want healthy adults. If they don't have a good base it is really hard to be active," says Stanley.
The patriot academy is working to fill a void for home schoolers like Berean, who couldn't jump rope when she started the program.
"Well first I had to do it (jump rope) like this, but now I can do it with my shoulders like this," Berean says as she simulates jumping rope.
"Everyday she pulled the jump rope out, every day she could get one or two, then she put 4 together and 5," says Tonya Matthews. For her and the other kids, that's Fit City Success.
The home schoolers are also learning how to take their target heart rate and figure out if it's in the right range. Parents say their kids see it more as fun than exercise.