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Published June 13 2010

Summer program keeps kids active

Boredom isn’t an option for dozens of local kids this summer.

They’re spending their school break in an activity-filled nutrition and fitness program – for fun.

“I really like being active,” said West Fargo 8-year-old Molly Dudley. “Running at home isn’t fun, but here they make running fun.”

From Moorhead to Kindred, N.D., about 40 kids come to Fargo to attend the all-day program taught by physical education teachers at TNT Kid’s Fitness.

The kids, ranging in ages from 6 to 12, are there simply to stay in shape.

“I’d say quite a few of these kids aren’t ‘the athletes,’ ” teacher April Iverson said. “You don’t have to be in sports to be physically fit.”

In fact, in the 12-week program “No Bummer Summer,” which started last week and goes through August, there isn’t time to sit still.

Instead, kids take nutrition classes, go on field trips to parks or pools and do fun fitness activities such as jumping on trampolines.

They also plant and care for a community garden, which teaches them healthy eating as well as giving back – the produce is donated to the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo.

A similar three-hour after-school program goes from August to May.

“I like being here,” said Moorhead 8-year-old Ethan Waterbury. “I like having fun, making new friends and getting exercise.”

Many other kids seem to agree. There isn’t an opening for the program until next summer.

“Parents really appreciate that … kids are getting that physical activity,” teacher and program director Nate Hendrickson said. “This is the best playground for kids.”

The after-school program shuttles West Fargo kids to the untraditional, gymnastics-based facility during the school year. Organizers say they could expand the program if they can get funding for another van.

“A lot of kids need it (physical fitness) outside school,” Iverson said.

The program draws autistic and other special needs students, but all kids seem to get the same benefits. Teachers say they see boosts in students’ self-esteem while parents report that their child sleeps better after all the activity.

“There’s so many proven benefits; so many kids just need that outlet of energy,” said Iverson, sporting a T-shirt that read: “We don’t quit until our kids are fit.”

For more information

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515