Ceil Hunt, president of the Castleton Alumni Association, glanced down at her FitBit. With pride, she showed the other participants around her.
“Six thousand, four hundred-forty-three,” she said, smiling.
That was how many steps she had achieved that day.
Hunt, 61, and many other members of the Castleton community, are participating in the Community Adult Physical Education Program at Castleton University.
“It’s a leadership skills program for the students who are going to be involved in the athletics field,” said Carole Hinners, 71. “We are members of the community who have been prescribed, which you need a doctor’s prescription to get on the program, because most of us are at risk of diabetes.”
The students are each assigned a team of community members who are at the same fitness level as each other, Hinners said. Some teams are not working quite as hard as others. In one side of the room, students lead participants in wall push-ups. In another, other community members jumped rope.
“Both the students and the community members benefit a great deal,” Hinners said.
The program is overseen by professor Gail Regan, who specializes in activity for older adults and those with chronic diseases.
“For students, it’s called Practicum in Exercise Leadership. It’s an allied health science class,” Regan said. “It is similar to an internship, except that the clients come to us. The mix of students in here is exercise science majors, health science majors, three athletic training majors and one physical education major.”
Regan said enrollment in the class is high, with the roster topping out at 12 students. The program was brought to Castleton by the Blueprint for Health manager at Rutland Regional Medical Center, Regan said.
“This is our fourth year,” Regan said, adding that their first meeting about the program took place five years ago.
Zachary Cullen, a junior exercise science major at Castleton, is one of the students involved in the program. Cullen said it was a requirement for his major.
“This stuff is really important, and a lot of people overlook the power of exercise and how it can change a person’s life,” Cullen said. “When you go to the doctor’s office and they tell you that you have Type 2 diabetes, they automatically start putting you on all these medications and stuff like that. If you stepped back and started looking at the person’s lifestyle, I think that a lot of these illnesses could be counterbalanced by exercise.”
Regan said that the program was an asset to both the clients and the students involved.
“I appreciate the college providing this as a community service, because it’s free for people to come. It’s free for the clients,” Regan said. “I think that it’s a good way to represent hardworking Castleton students in the community.”