In an effort to make sure youngsters in Adair County are getting on their feet this summer and keep moving, 2017 Nodaway Valley graduate Sami Harris is making a commitment to letting her love for physical education collide with her community by leading a couple of new groups that are meeting this summer at the Adair County Health and Fitness Center.
The Wolverine PAC (Physical Activity Club), which goes from June 4 to July 11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m., is for ages 8 to 12 and is designed to give youth the opportunity to develop teamwork skills and learn how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
The Kid's Mileage Club, which goes from June 5 to July 10 on Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m, is for students entering first through third grades. It revolves around walking adventures of varying kinds, scavenger hunts around town, yoga and more.
Harris, who is leading both groups, is the June subject for the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer's "People of Adair County" story series, which prints the first week of each month in both newspapers. Harris is the daughter of Lynn and Shelly Harris.
Harris grew up in Greenfield and reports she appreciates all the seeds that were planted in her, beginning at a young age, for a healthy lifestyle she would now lead.
"I have so many memories in Greenfield, riding bikes around or going to the pool with my friends. I worked for the Adair County Extension Office last summer helping with their programs, but growing up I went to a ton of camps," Harris said. "Growing up, I had a ton of role models to look up to teaching me how to be active."
Harris said that for a variety of reasons, she already has relationships with many of the kids she'll be working with, whether that be through babysitting or other avenues.
Harris began at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville in the fall of 2017 as an Elementary Education major. At the start of last school year, she switched gears to Physical Education, and she has gleaned much from her professors. Her aim is to be a PE and Health teacher someday in a school setting.
"I knew I always wanted to be a teacher but I've also always had this passion for health and fitness, so one day it occured to me I should change my major. I easily connected with a lot of my professors because at Northwest we have so many amazing professors who really care a lot about you," Harris said. "We have an elementary school on campus, and one of my professors teaches P.E. on our campus and she also teaches a couple of classes [at the college]. Through all my classes with her, I've picked up a lot of different things."
That professor is named Gina McNees. McNees even allowed Harris to borrow a few pieces of equipment for the summer so they could be used at the fitness center for PAC and the Kid's Mileage Club.
"I didn't realize how important P.E. was until I started taking these classes. Growing up, you come to P.E., run some laps and play dodgeball or kickball, but there are so many other things you can do with it," Harris said. "Gina's so creative at getting kids active."
In addition to the many pieces of equipment the kids will be able to use during PAC or the Kid's Mileage Club, Harris has flashcards that share nutrition information on them to get the kids thinking about what they eat.
"It has the different foods on it and you flip it over and they have all the nutrition facts on them," Harris said. "You could scatter these in the gym, they'd do an activity and then they'd go put [the food groups] together and it's a race to see who can get it done first. There are lots of fun ways to keep them active and have them learn something even when they don't realize they're learning."
Harris is excited that the fitness center gave her the opportunity to come lead these classes. The programs are being paid for primarily by a grant the fitness center receives each year.
Though the programs began this week, registration is still open and spots are still available. Call the fitness center at 743-2881 or email Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
"It's a good feeling to share something you love and teach others you know," Harris said. "Summer's such a busy time and it's our first time doing it, but we have some really great kids signed up. If people are still interested, they can contact me if they still want to join."