UNION TWP. >> About 40 student volunteers rose to the challenge this week when they built a military obstacle course behind Daniel Boone Area High School.

The course has eight obstacles including monkey bars, a low crawl area and a tire run. Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets, Boy Scouts from local troops and other volunteers sawed, hammered and more on Wednesday and Thursday to complete the construction of the activity station.

The high school’s JROTC Commander Shannon Helzer said fitness is a big part of the military training they do within the program. Area JROTC programs in addition to the one at Daniel Boone Area High School will use the obstacles, he said. Helzer also said the course is available to other community members.

“We are trying to encourage not only the cadets but also the other students in the Daniel Boone School District as well as the community members to pursue physical fitness,” he said.

JROTC cadet and high school senior William Millman, 17, said community service is a big part of JROTC so he was excited to be part of a construction project that would encourage the fitness of area residents. He said they wanted the course to be accessible to everyone.

JROTC 1st Sargent Liam Carmen, 17, said the obstacle course will help members of the program train and see what they’re capable of physically. Carmen is also in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He said the obstacles at the high school resemble ones at a local National Guard training center. He is looking forward to using the weaver obstacle which is a set of bars that people weave in and out of by moving on their side.

Helzer said another benefit of building the military course was that it gave students an opportunity to practice construction skills. He said as school budgets decrease, classes like shop are being cut or downsized. Helzer said many of the 40 student volunteers weren’t necessarily part of JROTC but wanted to learn more about building.

Taren Rickard is a senior at the high school and works at The Home Depot of Exeter. He said running a shop class is pretty expensive which makes it difficult when funding is cut for such classes. Rickard said he’s happy to have an opportunity such as the construction of the military course in order to gain experience.

Helzer said materials for the course were purchased with a $2,500 grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation and $2,000 from the Birdsboro American Legion Post 626.

The activity station was named the “Doyle/Lykens Obstacle and Confidence Course” after the high school health teacher Cynthia Lykens and 2007 graduate T.J. Doyle who is now battling cancer. The course will be dedicated to Lykens and Doyle during a commissioning ceremony later this month.

The Mercury is engaged in a long-term effort, Fit for Life, designed to promote healthy living. In addition to articles in the newspaper and on our website, Fit for Life features a blog with recipes, health tips such as getting fit without breaking the bank and other tools all available free online. Visit the website at pottsmercfit4life.com, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MercFit4Life and follow our efforts on Twitter @MercFit4Life.

Michilea Patterson is the Fit for Life reporter and is funded in part by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.

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