By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
MELBOURNE -- Students at Melbourne's Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School were given an incredible opportunity to participate in a day full of fun, while also learning important life skills.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the 213 students enrolled at OLL took part in "Vehicle 4 Change," a nonprofit organization that emphasizes health and wellness, encourages team building, sportsmanship and promotes anti-bullying initiatives.
The event was made possible by a fundraiser held earlier in the year, which ensured that the entire student body could participate in it.
"Athletic Director Mike Fairbank met Wes Foster, owner of 'Vehicle 4 Change' five years ago at a P.E. conference," said Donna Witherspoon, school principal.
Mr. Fairbank saw tremendous value in bringing Mr. Foster's program to his school, and Mrs. Witherspoon could not support his decision to bring the program to OLL more.
During the event, students from pre-K through eighth-grade had the opportunity complete a variety of physical challenges. Older students climbed a three-story rock-climbing wall, while younger students climbed a wide rock-climbing wall.
Students also navigated their way through high ropes courses, rode down a zip line and had a blast, while playing Wii Sports games inside the specialty video bus, which houses numerous plasma screens.
Through all the fun, OLL's students learned valuable lessons, such as trusting themselves and encouraging others, while promoting team building throughout each grade level.
"We saw students reach out to other students, who they normally would not have the opportunity to engage with them, given a different scenario," Mrs. Witherspoon said. "It brought me great joy to see a student being cheered on by a group of their peers for taking a risk to face a challenge."
Mrs. Witherspoon added that it was also special to see older students supporting their younger peers by participating in activities with them.
To further supplement what the students learned during "Vehicle 4 Change," Mr. Fairbank's plans to incorporate the event into a teaching segment, which will emphasis health and wellness, learning about fitness and working together in a team environment.
"The most rewarding aspect of the day cannot be pinpointed," Mrs. Witherspoon said. "The rewards came from the smiles on the students' faces, positive attitudes and the willingness to try something they had not before."
The "Vehicle 4 Change" event was so popular at OLL, even staff and faculty took part in the day's activities, alongside the students.
"We hope that the students have a new appreciation for their own abilities, recognizing that, with hard work and encouragement, they can succeed at anything," Mrs. Witherspoon said. "We also hope that they can see the power they have when encouraging others to achieve a goal."