More than 40 SUNY Oneonta students provided sports and exercise workshops to local children during a new “Little Red Dragons” program held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5 at the Oneonta Boys and Girls Club (OBGC).
Students from several majors participated in the pilot program as part of their Human Growth and Motor Development course.
“The Little Red Dragons program is an experiential learning assignment,” said Dr. Katie Griffes, the course’s instructor and assistant professor of Sport and Exercise Sciences. “It is designed to give students hands-on experiences implementing and observing content they have learned throughout the semester.”
Dr. Griffes collaborated with OBGC staff over the summer to come up with a partnership that would serve both the college and the community. This fall, students enrolled in Griffes’ Human Growth and Motor Development course came up with a name for the program, which will continue to be a course requirement each semester.
Each day of the program featured multiple hour-long fitness workshops, beginning at 4 p.m. and running as late as 8 p.m. Ten to 15 children in various age groups participated in a range of activities, including martial arts fundamentals, soccer ball control and balance, throwing and catching, fine motor skills, tic tac toe and running, proper weight room use and resistance training, softball, and more. Two to three students led each session, with a 5:1 ratio of children to instructor.
To prepare for the program, each group of students spent several hours in and out of class designing lesson plans based on their interests and backgrounds. Each workshop outline included instructional strategies, plans for giving feedback, safety measures and rules, materials, developmental considerations and potential adaptations.
“For our outline, we met up and looked at slides from class of basic ways to teach how to play sports and perform different movements,” said Anthony Cacciola, a Biology major and one of the students who led the softball group. “We also met up a few times to go through different exercises for softball.”
Exercise Science majors Olivia Fortin and Ellie Hoagland also led the softball group. “It was great to see our outline in action, even though we had to make adjustments based on what the kids preferred to do,” said Ellie. “It was fun to work with the kids!”
The pilot program was a win-win, offering fresh, fun programming for OGBC members, and valuable experience for the Oneonta students, many of whom plan to work with children and teens in health and fitness industries as coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists and other movement-based professions.
“I’m over the moon about the Little Red Dragons program,” said Robert Escher, executive director of the OBGC. “This is such a great win for everyone. We’re happy to be here to serve as a vessel for the curriculum, program and students. We’re grateful for all this additional great programming to offer our kids, and we’re looking forward to future programs.”