FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The noncommissioned officers and staff of Fort Leonard Wood’s 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment volunteered Saturday morning to host a modified Army Combat Fitness Test and team-building event at Shea Gym with fifth graders from Wood Elementary enrolled in their school’s fitness club.
According to Master Sgt. Darnell Chestnut, NCO 2-10 in charge of operations, students were given the opportunity to try out ACFT events such as sprint-drag-carry, ball toss and dumbbell squats before breaking into teams to solve memorization puzzles and performance mimic life-saving procedures with a stretcher and bandages.
The goal of each event, Chesten said, is to allow kids to demonstrate physical and mental toughness while showing them the benefits of fitness.
“It’s definitely a pivotal time in their lives and a good time to show them the importance of physical fitness,” Chestnut said.
The nine children who attended the event are enrolled in a two-week after-school activity club focused on physical and mental health and fitness — Saturday with Soldiers from 2-10 was the culminating event, said Kelly Caffey, Wood School counselor and facilitator of the club.
“They practice after school and we were able to be here today,” Caffey said. “We run; we do some activity, like yoga; then we do a sports activity — volleyball, basketball — we do an obstacle course outside on our playground. We do a lot of sit-ups and push-ups and squats and planks and lunges and things like that. We just teach fitness to kids and we try to encourage them to do other things. So we talk about all the things they can do as adults. We talk about how they can use that in their everyday lives and how mental health correlates with physical activity .
One of the students participating Saturday was Miloh Higgins, who called the event “amazing.”
“I’m so happy I got to be a part of it,” he said, noting his favorite part of the morning was showing off his plank skills (he planked for more than three minutes). “I train with my father. He’s a Marine. He trains me. I put on his big vest and do push-ups, jumping jacks.’
Higgins said the fitness club is great for building confidence and self-esteem, things he said he will need for his future career in the military.
“I want to join the Marine Corps, but if I can’t, I think I’d like it in the Army,” he said.
Cheering on his daughter Vanessa at the event was Sgt. 1st Class Joe Lynch, a platoon sergeant with the 5th Engineer Battalion. Lynch said he was excited to see her “come out here and do what we do.”
“It’s a modified version of what we do for our fitness test,” he said of the ACFT events. “When my wife told me (Vanessa) was going to be in, I jumped on board and came to watch her. It gives her just a fraction of the experience of what we do, and I think it’s amazing. I’m just glad to be here to support her.”
Caffey said two more 2-10 fitness events are planned for later this year for other students in the fitness club, and she thanked the Soldiers for their time.
“It’s a big support,” she said. “It’s a great mentoring situation where (the students) have all these adults to look up to who are doing great things for our community, our families and our country.”
More photos from the event can be viewed and downloaded on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.