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VIRTUAL MOUNTAIN, REAL RESULTS

An online expedition helps students at J.D. Floyd K-8 with fitness and fundraising.

When the J.D. Floyd PTA set out to raise money, adults decided to try to get the kids moving - for their own good.

The PTA event chairwoman, Micheline Gray, 36, used the online Adventure to Fitness fundraiser idea, and the students soon were looking for sponsors for their virtual expedition to Mount Everest.

Ten minutes a day for a week, students in kindergarten through eighth grade followed Mr. Marc, a character on a video, who guided them on adventures that ranged from falling into a crevasse and climbing out of it with pick axes to running away from a snow leopard and an avalanche.

The children weren't just sitting and watching. They were stepping and running in place, pretending to climb ladders and lying on their backs pedaling as they simulated sliding into the crevasses.

Interspersed among the activities were notes about eating right and questions of the day, such as, which organ digests food.

All the materials came from the Adventure to Fitness company. It receives 40 percent of the funds collected through the sponsorships and the PTA retains 60 percent. The company awards bronze, silver and gold medals for amounts collected: bronze to students who collect five sponsors, silver to those who find 10 and gold to students who have 20 or more sponsors.

Linette Stimmel, 31, is a J.D. Floyd kindergarten teacher whose students were recently climbing imaginary ladders. A program like this one is useful "to promote a healthy lifestyle that encourages exercise at an early age so it continues throughout their lives," she said.

The children seemed to enjoy it. When the video was turned on, they leaped out of their seats, grinning. Jayda Liguori, 5, said her favorite part of the adventure was the virtual rope climbing. "I learned that it was like exercising," she said.

Andrew Kang, 5, said it was like "playing" and explained why he suspected his teacher brought the virtual program into his classroom "because she thinks we're going to be on TV."

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