A group of Iowa students is helping community members by working in their yards to make it ready for the summer, and they’re earning physical education credit in the process.
High school students at the Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque spent their two weeks in working in the yards. Tim Hitzler, the social studies teacher who started the program, tells PEOPLE. They have decided to give this service to the elderly and disabled people and working in their garden. Cutting down bamboo, and even tending to chicken coops, according to ABC affiliate KCRG.
“Once kids do it once, they wanna do it again. It’s good for them to learn real-life skills,” Hitzler tells PEOPLE. “They work hard, it’s not easy. They’re sweating when they’re done.”
This is the part of school’s curriculum which allows students to choose from several activities during the last two weeks of school that will count toward their PE credit, Mike Cyze, a spokesperson for the Dubuque Community School District, tells PEOPLE. Hitzler chooses the yard work program, but other students have cleaned up golf courses and a river barge, Cyze says.
Hitzler first started the program four years ago after the school launched a garden, he says. Students have worked alongside Hitzler for two hours each day during the school week at the end of the school year.
“The students and I and other students come out and help them. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters just depends on what they need,” Hitzler told NBC affiliate KWWL.
“The students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning, but once they get involved and start doing the yard work, they become more motivated,” he added to the station. “They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”
Some students have even volunteered to continue the community service over the summer.
“I’ve had students that graduated that have come back to help,” Hitzler tells PEOPLE. “There’s something about helping people that really need it.”
Hitzler says that he uses his own pickup truck for the efforts, and uses his own yard tools and some from the school as well. And he is so overwhelmed that the people appreciated this act of kindness and it got so much attention on the internet.
“It’s been amazing, the attention this has gotten,” he tells PEOPLE. “I think it’s because it’s such a simple idea.”
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