Elementary Students and Seniors Make Exercise Fun During Weekly Zumba Sessions
Every Wednesday afternoon, Milton Hershey School’s elementary cheerleaders meet for practice. At the same time, MHS seniors meet as part of the Play60 exercise program organized by the Transitional Living team.
“Play60 gets all of our seniors moving and active at least twice a week, which they seem to love,” said Becca Brandt, a transitional living coordinator at MHS. “We’re trying to build health and wellness into their lives. For them, this is one hour where they can start to [establish] a routine for next year when they graduate.”
During a weekly Play60 Zumba session, MHS seniors decided to empower the elementary cheerleaders by inviting them into the gym to dance. It soon became a Wednesday tradition.
“The younger kids look up to the seniors so much,” said Megan Hiester, a second grade teacher at MHS. “One of their favorite things is Wednesday Zumba because they enjoy being able to interact with the older students.”
This cross-divisional activity allows the elementary students to learn from their peers and boost their excitement about exercise.
“It’s kind of like exercise in disguise because they don’t realize they’re exercising when they dance,” Hiester explained. “A lot of the elementary kids also know the songs the high schoolers pick, so they sing along and stay really engaged.”
For seniors, this collaboration has provided authentic leadership opportunities and helped them take ownership of their exercise routine.
“This has allowed seniors to be mentors for younger students and show them that health and wellness can be fun,” said Brandt. “It’s also a way for them to give back and lead an activity that promotes health and wellness. Hopefully as the [elementary] students get older, they can give back in the same way.”
The Play60 program is designed to help seniors establish healthy lifestyles. All seniors meet twice a week for one-hour increments, and participate in fun activities including Zumba, volleyball, kickball, basketball, and baseball.
As part of Milton Hershey School’s character and leadership development program, students of all ages learn the importance of health and wellness, and witness the collaborative effects of group exercise.