Can you imagine how wonderful it would’ve been, if when you were growing up, your school had a wind tunnel next to the gym? Instead of the dreaded ball game or another hot afternoon of running around the track, you'd have been able to fly!
An 11-year-old 6th grader in San Diego is doing just that. In order to meet his school’s 200-minute weekly exercise requirement, JK is permitted to use 10 of those minutes flying in the tunnel and the remainder of the time participating in sports that complement his tunnel work. These include martial arts, yoga, swimming, gymnastics, trampoline and weight training, all of which help to build his stamina, spatial awareness and strength. Every 2 weeks his coach, Mary Tortomasi, then signs off the paperwork that his school requires, to demonstrate his participation, effort and progress.
The California school districts are, in special cases, allowing students to include tunnel flying as their required physical education activity. This is enabled through an innovative program called the Independent Study in Physical Education (ISPE), which permits children involved in specialized sports to earn school credit for their efforts. This program was initially designed to cater for more ‘traditional’ extreme sports, such as snowboarding and surfing, but it is flexible enough to support almost any young athlete to focus on their sport of choice instead of the traditional Physical Education class.
The ISPE program also requires a competitive element – “documented participation in regular regional/state/(inter)national competitions”, at least 3 every 6 months. JK actually gained school credit for participating in the IBA Global Kids Challenge.
Kids can, of course, continue to fly just for fun, but there is the opportunity to go one step further. To be awarded school credits, you must reach tangible goals. This is where the IBA can help. Children can attend IBA competitions and their local tunnel’s Kids Club and events, and by doing so, can negotiate a deal similar to JK’s. It’s worth checking with your school administration to see what options are available.
This program is a Californian-based project, but think how brilliant it would be if it was adopted elsewhere, so kids all over the world could integrate tunnel flying as part of their education! Just imagine how many more incredible junior flyers we would have around the world – and the advances to the sport of indoor – and ultimately, outdoor – skydiving!