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Ducks Host 1,400 Fifth-Graders at Honda Center for Captain’s Challenge Fit Finals

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Jenelyn Russo

The Ducks welcomed 1,400 local fifth-grade students to Honda Center on Monday as they jumped, stretched and ran their way through the fourth annual Captain’s Challenge Fit Finals.

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As a part of the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education), Captain’s Challenge is a physical education initiative that aims to motivate and inspire fifth-grade students as they prepare for their upcoming California Physical Fitness Test.

Offered free to participating schools through the Anaheim Ducks Foundation, the program begins with a month-long workbook curriculum that schools incorporate into both the classroom and physical education coursework. The workbook outlines fun physical fitness activities and encourages healthy lifestyle choices as a way of preparing the students for their state-required physical fitness testing.

The content also promotes concepts and character traits built around the idea of learning “what it takes to be a Captain,” including qualities like courage, perseverance and integrity. Students each have the opportunity to take turns wearing the “C” for a day as the classroom captain, where they lead their fellow classmates through the workbook’s activities.

“We’ve been prepping all along for today’s event. The kids are pumped and excited about it.”

Fifth-grade teacher Jamie Blair from Corona Ranch Elementary has been a part of the Captain’s Challenge program since its inception and uses the workbook materials across several subjects to help get her students excited about physical fitness.

“The Captain’s Challenge [curriculum] is so easy to incorporate into the classroom,” Blair said. “Every day over the month we talk about the program. We track and record how the kids do in each assessment, incorporating math by graphing the results, so they can see their progress.”

More than 4,000 fifth-grade students from 35 local schools used the workbook curriculum, with 1,400 of those students from 15 schools participating in the Fit Finals. At Honda Center, the kids put what they had learned to the test by going through five of the assessments that comprise the California Physical Fitness Test, including sit-ups, push-ups, the sit-and-reach, trunk lifts and the one-mile run. Blair was confident that her students were more than ready for the challenge.

“We’ve been prepping all along for today’s event,” Blair said. “The kids are pumped and excited about it.”

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf made an appearance via a pre-recorded video (as the team is currently on the road), where he spoke about the qualities of a leader and the importance behind making healthy choices both in physical fitness and in everyday life.

With support from 200 volunteers – including Ducks staff, Ducks Die Hards booster club members and community partners such as Cal State Fullerton and University of La Verne – students’ results in each of the assessments were recorded and forwarded to the schools. Additionally, the Ducks teamed with Deja Blue to provide participants with runner’s bibs that electronically recorded the one-mile run time for each student.

“I love this program, and what I’ve learned is that you need to keep trying. You need to push yourself. It’s been a great experience.”

Representatives from the Orange County Department of Education were also on hand for the event, as they have worked closely with the Ducks in the development of the Captain’s Challenge program and curriculum. The Department’s Program Coordinator for Health Sciences and Physical Education, Chris Corliss, has seen the impact the program has had on both students and teachers.

“The Captain’s Challenge is a great product that supports not only learning about the components of healthy physical awareness, but it also empowers the students,” Corliss said. “The students can use their school day to implement these leadership traits, which in turn motivates them.

“The program also increases the students’ understanding of the testing and it helps engage the teachers in learning how to correctly administer the tests. When the adults get excited about something and pay attention to it, the kids do too.”

After completion of the assessment portion of the event and a lunch break, students had the opportunity to play some street hockey as well as visit expo vendors including Microsoft, Kind Snacks, CHOC Children’s and Corner Bakery.

Inspired by the goal-setting aspects of the Captain’s Challenge program, one of Blair’s students, 10-year old Natasha, worked over the course of the program to drop her one-mile time from approximately 11 minutes to under seven minutes.

“I love this program, and what I’ve learned is that you need to keep trying. You need to push yourself,” Natasha said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Natasha’s classmate, 10-year old Lucas, uses the leadership aspects of the program not only to motivate himself, but to help other students as they work to achieve their goals.

“I’ve learned to push as hard as I can, always be a leader and set a good example,” Lucas said. “This really helps kids be the best that they can be.”

The day of celebrating physical fitness concluded with closing ceremonies, where prizes from Kind Snacks and Corner Bakery, along with Anaheim Ducks gear and signed memorabilia, were raffled out to some lucky participants. Making fitness fun and giving kids the opportunity to be leaders in the classroom and at home has made all the difference for Blair’s students.

“The program works because it encourages the kids to push themselves and each other, in a good way,” Blair said. “It’s great to see them take the materials home and get the parents involved too. If one kid stops drinking soda, or if one kid starts running with his (or her) family, it’s a win.”

For more information on Captain’s Challenge and the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program, visit ducksscore.com.

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