WUFT News

Youth Combine turning out healthy middle school students, athletes

By on October 3rd, 2012

The sound of Matthew Howland’s whistle pierces the air on weekday mornings outside Westwood Middle School, cueing hundreds of adolescent athletes and their classmates to begin their workouts.

Some students flip tires and climb obstacles; others run or lift weights. All of them share a common goal: getting into better shape through Howland’s Youth Combine program.

Howland was still teaching at Westwood in 2011 when he developed an athletic combine program to help the school’s competitors train to make the jump to high school sports. It started with training sessions twice a week, but with child obesity on the rise, his program began attracting parents of students from other middle schools who asked if their children could join the workouts. The interest prompted Westwood to withdraw from his teaching job and expand the program. A year later, he wants to see Youth Combine grow even more to benefit students throughout Alachua County.

Howland shifted his program from two days per week and started hosting before- and after-school training sessions five days a week. He still conducts training at Westwood, but his programs are open to students from all schools. He hopes to expand Youth Combine even further over the next three years to draw as many as 400 students from across town. He said it will require additional funding and means of transportation, but it’s for a worthwhile cause.

“We want to empower all youth in Alachua County with the values of hard work, dedication and responsibility through high-intensity athletic training and fitness education,” Howland said, reinforcing Youth Combine’s mission statement.

In the meantime, the students are excited by their own results. Nearly 50 percent of the students enrolled in Youth Combine wouldn’t classify themselves as student-athletes, but all of them have managed to improve their mile times and general fitness levels. In doing so, they are also building friendships around a healthier lifestyle.

“They are already starting to develop the camaraderie where they want to help each other out,” Howland said.

For more information or to register a student in the program, visit www.youthcombine.org. 

George Pappas edited this story online.


This entry was posted in Education, Health and Science, Local and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Education

GALLERY: UF Graduates Collect Photos in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

UF graduates turn out for celebratory photos come rain or shine at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Thursday.


Florida Inches Closer to Other States in Tuition Charged Undocumented Students

Florida may soon offer undocumented students in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, joining the ranks of 20 other states with similar tuition equity laws and policies.


The Einstein School

Alachua County Superintendent Finalists To Answer Questions

Finalists for the Alachua County Schools superintendent position to meet with public in May.


Hernando County School Board meeting

Hernando Parents Fear Potential School Closures Despite Poor Facilities

Students would have to bus an extra 14 miles should Westside Elementary close.


Clay Hill Elementary is a part of the district-wide initiative to engage students with technology. Photo courtesy of jacksonville.com.

Clay County Improves Attendance, Discipline with Classroom Technology

Clay County School District recently implemented iPad technology into its curriculum as part of a district-wide initiative to improve attendance and behavior.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments