Jumpstarting an After School Program

Ticonderoga biking

An after-school program helps kids learn about health, fitness and the resources of the Adirondacks.

After-School Program Gets a Jump Start in Ticonderoga

After 31years of teaching at the Ticonderoga Middle School, Frank Fontana has noticed a growing problem for kids in the Adirondacks.  "In single parent houses, or even two-parent houses where both need to work, the kids are missing something meaningful in their lives outside of school."  With the help of grants from the Ironman Community Fund @ ACT, the Ticonderoga Middle School has filled that gap with an after-school program that teaches kids about health, fitness and the resources of the Adirondacks.

Principle Bruce Tubbs, a long-time triathlon participant and Ironman volunteer, applied for help from the Ironman Community Fund in 2003. He received $500 annually which allowed for an expanded program beyond school grounds.  "We went to Moriah for swimming, Silver  Bay for kayaking and the rock wall, we do photography, cooking, hiking..." lists Alyssa Fuller, a 7th grader.   Recently, they held their first duathlon. "We ran.75 miles, then biked 5 miles, and ran .75 miles again," explains Keegan Tierney, a 6th grader. "It was okay until the last .75 miles," commented 5th grader Michael Graney. With help from local trainers, the kids ranging from 11 to 14 years sound like professional athletes, rattling off phrases like interval training, bosu balls, core workout.

"Before, the kids would just go home after school. Often their parents wouldn't be there, and they wouldn't get their work done," recalls Tubbs. "Already, teachers notice a positive difference in their classrooms."  The long-term effects are clear too, as fitness and healthy living are becoming a way of life for Ticonderoga middle-schoolers.

"With cuts in education funding, it's hard for school districts to pick up the slack, especially in rural areas like the Adirondacks," comments Fontana.  Here's where the grants are so important, "The support from the Ironman Community Fund @ ACT is great, and after only three years, you can feel the difference in the kids...we're steadily chipping away at a region-wide problem, and schools need all of the continued support they can get."