Exercises Decorate Exterior of Moundsville Middle School

Photo by Alan Olson – Moundsville Middle School physical education teacher Mike Sforza paints a jumping jack station in front of the school.

MOUNDSVILLE – Students at Moundsville Middle School will be the first in the county to see their campus decorated with artistic expressions of exercise to motivate them to keep moving.

Fit and Fun Playscapes works with local coordinators to create outdoor spaces for learning and physical activity, and MMS was the first location selected in Marshall County to receive the new look. A winding path around the school was painted Wednesday morning with arrows leading to stations to do jumping jacks, squats and walk on a winding, dotted line. Across the back of the school, where stairs lead down to Monarch Stadium, a pair of four square courts were painted in Trojan orange, while the stairs themselves host multiplication tables. Painting was done by student and parent volunteers as well as teachers from MMS.

MMS health and physical education teacher Suzanne Muncy said the expanded range of activities around the school’s perimeter will give the students more variety in how they spend their outdoor time.

“Our kids at lunch, before, we’d just have them walk. But now we’re going to offer four square, times tables — which our kids really struggle with, and if this helps one kid with their times tables, or helps one kid move a little more, (it’s worth it),” she said. “I just was sitting here looking last week and was thinking, ‘We could fit a four square court here.’ And our kids love four square.”

Marshall County WVU Extension Service Adult Health Educator Molly Poffenbarger provided the materials and acquired the templates from the New York-based Fit and Fun Playscapes, first as an indoor addition to the school, but now looking to expand across the county.

“It really is supposed to engage children,” she said. “We started the program with vinyl stickers in the hallways, but when COVID hit, we took it outside to still enhance physical activity, but now it’s outside.

“I’ve contacted all the principals in Marshall County, and we’re working with the (Moundsville) Recreation Department to get it on the walking trail there, and I’m meeting with an elementary school to do it there before it gets too cold,” she added. “… There’s more childish ones for the elementary school, so we really worked hard to make this one more for the middle school, so it’s fun for everyone.”

Poffenbarger said the project was funded by SNAPEd and the USDA, and that the extension office had included this active pathways program into its five-year plan, which goes hand-in-hand with the nutrition education already underway in schools.

“We try to emphasize how important physical activity is for people of all ages,” she added.

“I’m so excited. It’s going to be all over Marshall County, and it’s going to be fabulous, good stuff,” Muncy added.

Eighth grade student Atreyu Dudley said the increased variety in outdoor activities was an appealing proposition for students, who relish the chance to go outdoors and take their masks off while they enjoy the fresh air.

“It’s better where we can take our masks off while social distanced, which we are most of the time, when we’re down on the football field,” he said. “It’s cool. I can tell all my friends that I painted it.”


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