NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — OpenNorfolk is offering socially-distanced outdoor physical education classes for youth.
It’s part of their initaitive to provide outdoor spaces and activities for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The classes will be held every Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. in Broadcreek and taught by Lavonne Pledger of Embodiment Fitness.
“Across the country, everyone’s been virtual learning, sitting in front of their screens for four or more hours a day. We have a necessity for outdoor activity in a safe and controlled environment where parents can be sound of mind,” Pledger said.
Pledger says he taught fitness classes for OpenNorfolk over the summer but with the start of the school year, he knew he wanted to continue on to help.
“I am a father. I have two tweens,” he said. “I’ve spent the last 10 years working with kids. I know this virtual learning situation can get them a little antsy so it’s always good to have some outdoor time.”
Hillary Gentry, who is a project manager with YARD & Company that works with OpenNorfolk, says due to COVID-19 regulations, they knew that outside spaces were a safer environment for students who are missing out on the opportunity to gather safely.
“PE is a core focus in school. It’s just giving kids the opportunity to come out and meet safely and get that physical activity,” she said.
PE classes are not the only events or activities OpenNorfolk is offering.
There are five neighborhood spots, Broadcreak, Teens With a Purpose, The Plot, and Five Points, that hold these outdoor activities.
Gentry says they’ve partnered with museums and other organizations to provide crafts for families as well as small business pop-ups to helping struggling businesses.
It was supposed to go through the summer.
“Our plan was to activate these spaces during the summer but with virtual learning, we recognized there’s still a need for these outdoor spaces. We’ve been utilizing it in a variety of ways from the programming we’ve discussed as well as supporting our local businesses and keeping an eye on them and allowing them to pop up in the spaces while keeping to regulations,” she said.
While the spaces can provide many in the community with a place to safely have fun, Pledger hopes that students will be able to participate in his classes. He says recent gun violence among teens, including a shooting at a playground, made him want to help give kids a chance.
“I recognized we needed an opportunity to do something. This is me stepping up to the plate to make something happen,” he said.
To learn more about OpenNorfolk and its events, including those coming up this weekend, click here.