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Students connect with community


There has been a great push to encourage America’s youth to eat and live healthy — even by Hofstra students.

On Tuesday night, California Avenue Elementary School held their first annual Family Fitness Night in collaboration with a dozen Hofstra students. The elementary school is a five-minute walk from campus, and activities included yoga, hula hooping, Zumba and basketball.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Wiesler.

Sophomore Britney Nathan, a member of Hofstra’s 4 + 4 pre-med program, was the first student to get involved in the event. When she heard the elementary school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was planning a night of fitness activities and healthy living habits, she started getting other clubs and community members involved.

“In November, we began to plan the event and decided to get the Yoga Club, Tai Chi Club, Be Kind. Step Up and Zumba instructors on board,” said Nathan. She also contacted local pediatric dietician Pamela Reichert-Anderson and the director of community outreach at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Debora Riccardi, who were excited to lend their expertise, according to Nathan.

Through the combined schools’ efforts, about 80 parents and students were educated on health and fitness.

Jillian Schon, the president of the Yoga Club and co-leader of the clubs’ participation, was pleased to see a good turnout amongst Hofstra students.

“It was awesome that Hofstra had such a huge presence at the event,” said Schon.

While other students led basketball games and hula hooping, Schon and other members of her club taught yoga to the kids.

“It was the first time I had taught [yoga] … and the parents and kids seemed to enjoy it more than I even expected, and they left my class smiling, hopefully a little bit less stressed,” said sophomore Kelly Fries, a member of the Yoga Club and Be Kind Step Up Club.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Wiesler.

Teachers at the elementary school commended the students’ efforts.

“It was great to have volunteers working with us to impart knowledge upon our students and parents,” said Jessica Weisler, a PTA member and foreign languages teacher.

Approximately 270 people were expected to show up to the event. However, Weisler pointed to the poor weather to explain the poor attendance, saying it had acted as a deterrent for families. Many of the families also have parents who work long hours, multiple jobs and or head single-parent households.

Participating club members found out that just down the street, there are kids dealing with stress in and out of the class that are similar to the pressure college students go through. Weisler’s hope is that if students from our campus can make the time to get involved, then parents will find a way to get involved in the PTA as well.

“The kids saw [us] as somewhere between kids and adults and connected with us instantly. Other clubs should reach out to them. They are so close and unfortunately don’t get many opportunities like this event,” said Schon.

Nathan and Schon are enthusiastic about the potential for future collaboration with California Avenue Elementary School.

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