Home-schooled students fill the Copperas Cove Armed Services Family Center twice a week to toss Frisbees, dribble basketballs and learn about physical education.

Center Director Doreen Vasseur said the nonprofit began the Home School Physical Education Program more than two years ago after it realized a large number of home-schooled students used the center.

Last year, the class, which fulfills the state’s physical education curriculum, won the International Armed Services YMCA New Program Award that included a $10,000 grant.

The class provides various activities that help promote physical and athletic development and healthy life choices, Vasseur said.

Between 20 and 30 home-schooled children ages 5-12 are enrolled in the class this semester.

“We spend a lot of the time trying to develop their skills in a lot of different aspects,” said Dustin Davis, the center’s wellness director. “Find the kids something that they love so they can pursue it, which in turn, will help them pursue a healthy lifestyle.”

Davis, a graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor with degrees in exercise physiology and Christian ministry, is the program’s only instructor.

The class goes beyond the learning objective by giving children something more valuable, Davis said. “To me it’s all about the social and emotional aspect of school, which the kids usually miss out of because they’re at home.”

Copperas Cove resident Racquel Wederstrandt has three children enrolled in the class.

Her children initially were apprehensive about meeting other students but were put at ease by the friendly environment at the YMCA, she said.

The program’s philosophy centers on anatomy as a fundamental component of the learning process, and students are often tested on their knowledge of the subject. Davis said they learn about muscles and specific exercises that work those muscles.

Each student receives a point for identifying the correct muscle group; one week, Emmanuel Thomas received the most points.

“It was awesome,” Emmanuel said.

Parent participation is not uncommon during the class, Davis said. He believes parent involvement helps reinforce positive development.

“It’s going to help combat everything else these kids are learning from the media that’s detrimental to their health,” he said.

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