New program ExerCYse Time helps youth get active

Noelina Rissman

A new program launched on Friday called ExerCYse Time to help Ames youth become active and in turn gives undergraduate students a chance to gain service learning opportunities.

From 7-8 p.m. on Friday nights, youth ages 5 to 14 have the opportunity to go to Forker Building (Gym 184) to participate in fun and games coordinated by undergraduate and graduate students.

“ExerCYse Time, specifically, is to increase physical activity or exercise time in children and youth primarily during the winter months due to research out there that shows that youth activity tends to decline during the winter months,” said Joey Lee, a graduate assistant involved with the ExerCYse Time program. “We want to address that specifically by offering a chance for children to be able to be active in a safe, fun environment.”

Sponsored through the ExerCYse is medicine program under the direction of kinesiology professor Gregory Welk. Iowa State undergraduate students have an opportunity to be involved and gain service learning experience by becoming an ambassador to one of the different committees. Through this program, undergraduates are able to work closely with the graduate students, who are leaders of the different committees.

“The leaders teach the ambassadors and recruit the ambassadors to come to the events and help them host,” Lee said.

The minimal requirement is that every ambassador volunteers at three events every semester; however, there is incentive for those who want to go above and beyond.

“If you’re an ambassador for a year … and interested in becoming more involved, you can apply to become a committee leader. And the committee leaders will then sign up for a 3 credit hour course that is geared towards their ability to do service learning,” Lee said.

Amy Stiehl, youth committee leader and senior in kinesiology and health, started a couple years ago as a way to get involved with the Ames community on campus. Before she started ExerCYse Time, Stiehl was originally in the pre-health profession option with kinesiology. Now, she wants to become a physical education teacher.

“Especially being with the youth committee, I think a lot of that will benefit me in the future… A lot of [the activities] are gym-related and game-related. So, I hope that will transfer later to maybe teaching in an elementary school in the future,” Stiehl said.

Not only is working the youth committee beneficial in helping decide one’s future career path, but it also helps build relationships and helps build upon a different communication style.  

“It was so rewarding getting to see the kids and developing a relationship with them over time,” said Allison Kral, second-year ambassador and sophomore in dietetics. “[It’s great] teaching them new exercises that they didn’t know and new games and just seeing them having fun… [Also], it’s a different style communicating with children. So, I think that will benefit me with a different communication style.”  

There are more benefits than what Stiehl and Kral experienced through helping with ExerCYse Time but for the prospect of service learning in general.

“Embrace being involved, especially when you’re serving the community or youth… You get more out of it than you even realize,” Lee said.

For more information on becoming an ambassador and getting involved with the ExerCYse is Medicine program, visit and click on the ambassadors link to sign up.