Students at Millsboro Middle School recently filled the school’s gymnasium with a huge dose of fun and excitement, all in the name of health. The school is partnering with the Oak Orchard Riverdale Boys & Girls Club to offer a special “Hip Hop Cardio” program developed by the Boys & Girls Club to address cardio-based health, combined with a special message touting tobacco prevention.
The Hip Hop Cardio program is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware’s “Smoke Screamers,” tobacco prevention program that combines physical fitness and tobacco prevention education for a healthy lifestyle. This programming is being supported through funding from the Delaware Department of Public Health and the Delaware American Lung Association (ALA).
According to Oak Orchard Boys & Girls Club Director, Erica Kennedy, the program has a goal of raising awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. She said the Hip Hop Cardio program at Millsboro Middle School is a pilot opportunity and hopes to see it grow to reach even more students in the district.
Kennedy said the program involves sixth grade students who are enrolled in the school’s Health curriculum. The students participate as a group and while enjoying “appropriate hip hop music,” provided by D.J. Mike Warren and “Just Kidding Around,” rotate among five cardio circuits in a specific time period. School and Boys & Girls Club staff are stationed at each of the five cardio points and help to act as role models and engage and encourage the young people.
“The goal of this program is to raise awareness about tobacco prevention while conducting a physical fitness activity that focuses on the importance of cardio. Our future vision for this program is to involve more youth and even the possibility of involving their families so that we may enlist more advocates for tobacco prevention,” Kennedy said.
Millsboro Middle School health teacher Justin Tomlinson, said he welcomes the opportunity to have Boys & Girls Clubs bring the Hip Hop Cardio program to his students. “Anytime we can get some help to promote the health message it is a great thing,” he said. “We have some Boys & Girls Club members in our health classes and I tell them they are sort of ‘super stars’ because they already know a lot about the topics that we are covering and how important it is to have a healthy, active lifestyle.”
He said the Boys & Girls Club health and tobacco prevention message fits extremely well with what he is covering in the health classes at school. “We have discussed tobacco and substance abuse prevention in our sixth grade classes, so having this program come and support that topic is helpful. They are also able to take the special promotional items that Boy & Girls Clubs brings to help them remember this message and put it to work in real world situations, outside of school.”
Tomlinson who has been teaching at Millsboro Middle School for seven years said it is his hope that Boys & Girls Clubs will have the funding that would enable the Hip Hop Cardio program to come to the school every month so he will be able to have all of his students enjoy the opportunity. “Every nine weeks I get a whole new group of students,” he said. “I would really like to allow all of them to enjoy this program. I think it really makes learning fun and the kids get a lot out of it.”
Clarence Pitts, Child Care Coordinator at the Oak Orchard Riverdale Boys & Girls Club, was on hand to take part in the Hip Hop Cardio event and said the program is all about “getting the kids up and moving.” Pitts said this past summer after the Boys & Girls Club members had eaten lunch, staff wanted to ensure that the youth would incorporate exercise to promote good health. “We always encourage our kids to stay active and exercise,” Pitts said. “We would play music after lunch and recognized that this really made them want to get up and move. So, we felt that if we played the music and incorporated exercise stations, this would be a way to help them get some good exercise and have fun at the same time. They also are able to learn about the benefits of different exercises. We started with five or six kids and when other kids saw them having fun they wanted to get involved as well.”
Pitts, who has been with Boys & Girls Clubs for 13 years, said Boys & Girls Club staff saw the value of the Hip Hop Cardio program based on the reception demonstrated by the youth at the club, so they saw this as an opportunity to do outreach. They met with Millsboro Middle School representatives and proposed the idea of integrating the program with the school’s Health class.
The Hip Hop Cardio program made its debut at Millsboro Middle School on Jan. 19, and both the school and Boys & Girls Club staff are hoping to continue this health-based outreach for the students moving forward.
The Oak Orchard Boys & Girls Club “Hip Hop Cardio” program is made possible through the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention Community Contract. Funding for the Contract is provided by the Delaware Health Fund and managed by the American Lung Association in Delaware.