LAWRENCE, Kan. — Sixth-graders at Billy Mills Middle School in Lawrence, Kansas, are the first in the country getting to try out a new physical education program based on triathlon training.
USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport of triathlon, announced Friday that it will incorporate the "Splash, Spin, Sprint" curriculum into schools all over the country.
The program is a product of more than 10 years of collaboration between USA Triathlon, Alive With Mission Me, experienced triathletes and multi-sport coaches, and health and physical education professionals. It incorporates biking, running and swimming exercises. It also provides students with heart-rate monitors to keep track of their progress.
Liz Dobbins, an adjunct lecturer at the University of Kansas, is one of the co-authors of the curriculum.
Dobbins is a former triathlete herself and has been working on the program for nearly 10 years.
"It really promotes health and wellness, what that looks like and what you do to be healthy and well as you grow," Dobbins said.
The pilot version of the program is geared toward students ages 6 to 15. It offers a nine-week lesson manual with more than 25 lesson plans for physical education teachers to choose from.
P.E. teacher Emily Hess said the activities are the kind that will stick with students for life.
"Giving them the opportunity to be exposed to things like riding a bike, swimming and running — they're all great leisurely activities that they can do forever," Hess said.
Dobbins said USAT chose Lawrence as the starting point for the pilot since Dobbins lives there and can easily oversee it and help teachers along the way.
"What better place to oversee this than in your hometown before it moves out to many places in the United States," Dobbins said.
Billy Mills Principal Keith Jones said the program fits right in with the school's goal of health and wellness.
"You get them young and then they do nothing but understand the importance of being healthy," Jones said.
Jones said he's proud to have the school be the first in the nation to try out the program.
"It's pretty awesome. I think our kids are excited. I know our staff is excited — our P.E. teachers did an amazing job implementing the program," Jones said.
Members of USAT made a trip out to Billy Mills to help kick off the program.
They plan to bring it to schools all over the U.S. after getting feedback from staff at Billy Mills.