The gym in Lambert Fieldhouse was filled with tumbling, vaulting and falling kids to give Purdue students experience teaching physical education.

Over 35 kids, ranging from ages 5-12, participated in the Physical Education Teacher Education program, an initiative started to promote the need for gymnastics and motor movement to improve overall health and wellness. The program has been in existence for over five years and aims to give students experience in teaching kids skills that are necessary for development, such as coordination, balance, rotation and agility.

Student teacher Jennifer Haddock, a senior in the College of Health and Human Sciences, said, “I want to teach children to love physical activity and physical education and teach them how important it is to always stay physically active.”

Every Monday for five weeks, a group of home-schooled students are invited to join Purdue students as a part of Health and Kinesiology 10400, Educational Gymnastics and Adventure Education, an introductory level class for Purdue students in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Haddock said the program is mutually beneficial for the home-schooled students as well as the Purdue student teachers. “This program has done a lot to develop my teaching skills. It’s really helpful to take the skills we have learned in class and teach them to students,” she said.

Carole DeHaven, director of the department of health and kinesiology and continuing lecturer, said the program is at risk for being discontinued. Only 15-20 students graduate from the program each year, but it has proven successful. The graduation placement rate is 85 percent despite low numbers.

Although not many students go through the program, students like Haddock see the benefits. Events when home-school students come to Purdue allow her to practice hands-on learning, giving “lots of opportunity” to help “achieve her goals.”

“(The physical education program) just gives (our students) many opportunities to go out and be visible and share the best practices...we are really teaching the ‘why’ of what should really be going on in terms of fitness, body management and confidence, “ said DeHaven.