The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has awarded a No Child Left Inside grant to Minnewaska Area Schools to expand its physical education curriculum through the Minnewaska Nordic Expansion project, it was announced by the school last week.

This initiative aims to further support cross-country skiing and introduce snowshoeing activities to middle school and high school students, promoting outdoor recreation and physical fitness.

The grant, totaling $16,000, will be utilized to purchase the necessary materials and equipment to implement cross-country skiing and snowshoeing into the school’s physical education courses, it was stated. These additions align with the school’s commitment to providing comprehensive and engaging physical education opportunities while fostering a deeper connection to nature among its students.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Minnesota DNR, which will allow us to enhance our physical education programs and provide our students with valuable outdoor experiences,” said Sarah Suchy, Director of Teaching, Learning, and Technology at MAS.  “The Minnewaska Nordic Expansion project will not only promote physical fitness but also instill a love for outdoor recreation and an appreciation for our environment.”

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing offer numerous benefits to students, including cardiovascular exercise, improved balance and coordination, and exposure to Minnesota’s natural beauty during the winter months. By incorporating these activities into the curriculum, Minnewaska Area Schools aim to encourage lifelong participation in outdoor recreation and support the holistic development of its students.

The Minnewaska Nordic Expansion project will begin implementation in Fall 2024, with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing activities integrated into physical education classes starting in the upcoming winter season.