HCISD coaches develop a way to keep kids active

Jaime Davalos is enjoying P.E. class.

“ The P.E. coaches are very fun and they bring a lot of enthusiasm,” said Jaime, 10, a fourth grader at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary School.

Since the Harlingen school district closed all campuses in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have been working with students through virtual classrooms.

Of course, academic classes were the first to go online, but physical education coaches quickly developed a way to keep kids exercising.

“ I get on with each classroom, and the teacher is there,” said Graciela Bouls, physical education teacher at Rodriguez Elementary.

“ They’re logging in from their homes,” Bouls said. “We zoom in, the kids stand up. We greet the kids, we do a virtual hug.”

The kids know which day and time they’re supposed to log in for P.E. class. They know to have a space set up in their homes, complete with a place to position their electronic devices to stay plugged in. They have their water bottles. It is, after all, an exercise class.

The exercise sessions have impressed Jaime’s mother, Adriana, whose younger son Marco also participates.

“ The coach puts on some music that they like,” she said. “They do things like lunges, jumping jacks, bear crawls…”

“ Running in place, stretching,” interjected Jaime.

“ They get excited to see their coaches and their friends,” Adriana Davalos continued. “I know a lot of parents don’t have an area they can run around in and have fun activities. My boys have a swimming pool, trampoline and a big yard.”

The kids Bouls works with tell her about their daily activities, which she and the other coaches are eager to hear.

“ I come across some kids that say, ‘Our parents don’t want us to go outside,’” Bouls said. “So they kind of share with us the activities that they’ve been doing inside.”

Those activities entail such tasks as taking out the trash, sweeping the house and helping with various chores, taking the dog out or playing with their brothers and sisters. While these may seem routine in ordinary time, they are crucial in these days of extraordinary events.

“ We have been encouraging all of those physical activities,” Bouls said.

The coaches at Rodriguez Elementary answered the call of the times the moment the campuses closed.

“ We wanted to reach out to the kids to give them some comfort,” she said. “We as coaches wanted them to see a familiar face and some consistency.”

In these extraordinary times, as the children bear eyewitness to historical events, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, the usual becomes spectacular, and the familiar becomes the safety of the uncertain.