It’s a bond that grows stronger with every single push-up and sit-up they laugh through together, every single Tuesday and Wednesday in the gyms and on the playgrounds of Webling Elementary School; a bond that a group of 8th Special Troops Battalion Soldiers are committed to constantly reenergizing with exercises and smiles each week.
Fueled by the dynamic mentorship of Sgt. Luke Failauga and Pfc. Darrius Scott, more than 180 students in the school’s kindergarten, 1st and 5th grade classes shared a morning full of motivating new exercises together during a physical exercise session at the school Jan. 22.
The unit’s relationship with the school began more than five years ago, and was renewed at the start of the 2013-2014 school year with Failauga taking the role as lead liaison following two years of being one of the most committed volunteers in the program.
“It’s important to do things this because it creates a fun and positive environment for the kids to stay physically fit and gives them the hope and motivation to push themselves to do things they’ve never done before,” he said. “My favorite part is seeing students laugh, while also showing discipline as I lead the physical education sessions.”
He and Scott often lead more than five hours worth of different daily PT sessions each week to the school’s 600 students.
Failauga said it’s a mix of the students’ usual exercises and some Army exercises that he uses cadence-style counting for so they experience a little of what PT in the Army is like.
He said, “I like seeing them have fun, especially when they say, ‘You Army Soldiers are strong. I want to be in the Army when I grow up too!’”
The physical education partnership is just part of the 8th STB’s relationship with the school, which also includes assisting in school projects and serving as mentors in community and tutoring programs.
It’s a partnership that Webling principal, Sherrylyn Yamada, said, “Builds a great relationship between the Soldiers, the unit, the Army, our kids, the school and the outside community.”
Video by Sgt. Jesse Untalan