Older Kids Need Play Too! 7 Ways Ninja Courses Help Teens

“Big kids still wanna be kids,” said Albert Aragon, principal of Valencia High School in Los Lunas, N.M. At the Albuquerque-area campus, a new ninja course from Greenfields has been a catalyst to get students active in a way that makes fitness seem a lot like play. 

Teen on equipment
Photo courtesy of Greenfield's Outdoor Fitness Inc.

The challenging course, a sort of playground for older kids, is used by PE classes, athletic teams and the VHS student body in general. Students enjoy the opportunity to let out their energy in an unstructured setting. 

Besides the obvious physical benefits of getting moving, VHS staff has observed others as well: 

1. A connection builder: Traditional sports are a great way to build connections with students, Aragon said, and ninja courses offer the same opportunities. 

2. Confidence booster: Recreation therapist Steven Aragon—no relation to the principal—works with students both with physical and mental disabilities. One student who’d been getting treatment for cancer was afraid to do low-level physical movements. Aragon took her to the course and observed the “uplift” in her mood when she was able to use part of the course and experience “the feeling of being able to do something—versus everyone else telling her she can’t.” 

Girl on Equipment
Photo courtesy of Greenfield's Outdoor Fitness Inc.

3. A draw for students to come back to campus: “We’re dealing with students who were in a shutdown,” Assistant principal Jennifer Otero said. “This is something they can do that they can’t do at home.” 

4. A new, attractive option: High schools don’t have playgrounds, and school staff agreed that the opportunity for unstructured physical activity does indeed fill a gap in the resources the school provides for students. 

5. An incentive: Teachers use the course as an incentive, letting students use it once their work for the day is complete and providing them a welcome release after hours in the classroom.

6. A de-escalator: Students with conditions such as ADHD can struggle with sitting in the classroom for long periods of time. For schools where there are not many options for these students to release frustrations and let out energy, a ninja course provides a perfect means of doing that. 

7. A way to discover new strengths: The construction supervisor for the Los Lunas High School District was instrumental in bringing the course to the campus. “We discovered strength and athletic ability in kids that didn’t play traditional sports, and have now been able to direct them into activities they can excel at, such as wrestling,” she said.

For those who are a bit too old for playgrounds, ninja courses are a great alternative to team sports and an excellent way for kids to get moving. See all the ways you can bring fun fitness for the older kids at greenfieldsfitness.com/ninja-course-packages.