Nic Belloma

Centerville girls basketball head coach and Central PE teacher Nic Belloma (right) gives instruction to Mickey Stephens (center) and Abby Drew (left).

In these times of quarantine and social distancing, it can be hard for kids to get their daily exercise away from gym class at school. One Centerville teacher is trying to keep kids active from home.

Central PE teacher Nic Belloma, like all teachers around the country right now, has had to get creative with schools closing and people being encouraged to stay home to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

“It has definitely been different that is for sure,” Belloma said. “I’m always on the go, moving between Howar Middle School, Central Elementary and practices most nights. So staying in one place and not interacting face to face with people has been a change for me but I’m dealing with it the best that I can, just like most of our other community members.”

Belloma created a Facebook page for his PE classes a few years ago so parents could see things the kids were doing at school. So when he was thinking of ways he could continue to communicate to kids away from school, Belloma thought that was a good place to start.

Since the schools closed on March 16, Belloma has been creating and posting videos once or twice a week on YouTube and Facebook that teach kids ways they can stay active during this time away from school.

“When thinking about what I wanted to do for the video ideas, I just wanted to find easy ways to get students moving while they are at home,” Belloma said. “Keeping them active is obviously good for them physically but maybe, more importantly, it’s good for their mental health and maybe even the mental health of their parents! More than anything I just want to keep our students connected to school as much as possible while they are at home. Even though we aren’t directly teaching new PE skills during this time, it is a great time for our elementary students to learn to be creative and learn to find ways to keep themselves active while they are away from school.”

Whether it’s getting out for walks, creating obstacle courses or tossing the ball around, Belloma has been encouraging kids to come up with creative ways to stay active and healthy with his videos. He has even had the help of his daughter, Maggie, to showcase some of the ways they are keeping active.

Facebook and YouTube are just some of the ways teachers are staying in contact with students. Belloma said a lot of the teachers at Howar and the high school are using Google Classroom to get content out to students and keep them engaged. Some are also using the video chat website Zoom as another form of communication.

It’s almost been a month without school and although some of the kids may be enjoying the extra time off, the teachers have certainly missed their time away from the classrooms.

“Without question, it’s the daily interactions with students and staff,” Belloma said on what he misses about school. “I’m a people person for sure as are all teachers. I miss making all those daily connections with students. We are all trying our best to continue to make as many of those connections as possible during this time with the use of technology but it isn’t quite the same as being able to talk face to face with a student or being able to give them a high five as they leave your classroom.”

As of now, Iowa schools are set to remain closed for the rest of April with the current plan set to see them reopen on May 1. Until then, Belloma will continue to have ways for you and your kids to stay active as the weather hopefully continues to get nicer.

“When it is nice outside, get out of the house, go for walks, do yard work, play with your kids outside, anything to keep yourself moving is a good thing,” Belloma said. “If you can’t get outside, find ways to stay active in the house. You can do simple exercises without any fancy equipment, planks, wall sits, squats, etc. You can find all kinds of exercises on YouTube if you need help. Cleaning your house is a great way to get some movement in, you can incorporate a variety of muscle groups without even realizing it when cleaning the house. Moving around is great for your physical health but with all these consecutive days at home it might be more important to stay as active as possible for your mental health.”

Colin Peters can be reached at cpeters@dailyiowegian.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @ColinPetersDI.

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