June 19, 2006

'ESPN Play Your Way' honors student group

by K.C. Jaehnig

 CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A physical education project that helps home-schooled kids become physically fit while playing together provided a slam-dunk win for a Southern Illinois University Carbondale student club.

The Department of Kinesiology's Physical Education Teachers and Coaches Organization took home one of five $1,000 prizes given by ESPN and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education earlier this spring as part of a new program called ESPN Play Your Way.

The program aims to encourage physical activity by having physical education majors work with children on creating new games that promote movement and flexibility and increase strength and heart rate. More than 40 colleges and universities participate in the program, which includes an annual contest highlighting the best "Play Your Way" projects.

SIUC's project focused on children schooled at home because these children don't have many opportunities to meet and play with other children. The game entry, the intriguingly named "Monkey Scowling" (it rhymes with "bowling") combines hockey nets, bowling pins, a foam ball and a goalie in a hybrid of soccer and bowling. The children, ranging in age from 9 to 11, selected the equipment used in the game, devised their own rules and came up with the name.

"They had a lot of fun," said Wei Bian, assistant professor of kinesiology and one of the club's advisers.

"This one we selected for the (award) application is only of the activities they designed. There are more for children of all ages."

Other winners in the national contest were Eastern Washington University, Philadelphia Biblical University, Shippensburg University and Wingate University.

Engaging students in the broad learning opportunities available at SIUC is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.