Rossier Alumna and USC Young Scientist Program Host After-School Health and Fitness Studio

In honor of World Health Week, the USC Young Scientists Program (YSP) and Rossier alumna Dieuwertje Kast (MAT ’14) hosted a health and fitness workshop funded by The Safeway Foundation for 45 fourth and fifth grade students at Vermont Elementary. The workshop was divided into stations and featured cardiovascular activities, yoga, strength training and sports, as well as information on healthy eating habits.


The Joint Educational Project’s (JEP) YSP program and USC Athletics partnered together for this active workshop and brought in amazing USC athletes like Elain Krebs and Pecko Lin who are involved in rowing and Paige Hines and Alexa Stonish who play sand volleyball. With USC Athletics Director of Community Outreach Matt Ackels and Matt Barkley’s facilitation, the athletes were able to join the workshop and speak to students about their experiences in sports and even share the equipment they use (such as rowing machines).

Workshop Stations

At the cardio station, students learned how to calculate their heart rate (recovery, resting and post-exercise) and speed. Fourth grader Aislinn found the cardio station particularly interesting and excitedly said, “You can find your heartbeat at your neck and hand bone.”

While some students filled out exercise charts during the cardio activities led by Teaching Assistants (TAs) Layla Farrahi and Chuck Uzoegwu, others learned about tranquility and flexibility in yoga by Claire Chatinover. Students in the yoga session learned how the two can translate into real life and were able to participate with yoga mats that were brought in by Chatinover.


In another section of the workshop, TAs Rachel O’Leary, Shakya Sur and Geoff Kusaka managed the healthy eating station where students learned how to eat nutritiously by weighing food portions and how to cook a healthy meal of spaghetti squash, tomatoes, zucchini and chia seed pudding.


Additionally, TAs Rima Al-Rabadi and Anna Duan proudly cheered on students at the strength and sports station. This station was divided into three parts. They first engaged children on core strength exercises; then, they allowed the children to work out on the rowing machine and learn about the rigors of participating on a rowing team from the student athletes; and lastly, the TAs took students to the volleyball station where they learned the basics of volleyball and were able to play with the college-level athletes.

Lessons Learned

In the end, the Vermont students who attended the workshop learned valuable lessons about leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Fifth grader Nayeli Quezada said she would exercise whenever she has time and “will do more sports and yoga,” while fourth grader Ashley Hernandez said, “It was very fun. I am going to use [what I learned] with my family.”