PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” If you are looking to climb higher, you might want to talk with the Army National Guard, which offers a free outreach program in area schools.
SSG Michael Barnett, Army National Guard recruiter, said schools can take advantage of a variety of free activities and programs.
â€śWe offer these at no charge,â€ť he said, adding that recruiters offer free programs on drug prevention, Prom Promise, history of the National Guard, flag ceremonies and other informational classes.
â€śAll of the recruiters are trained to speak on each of these classes and programs,â€ť Barnett said.
The Guard also offers various activities such as the climbing wall at Punxsutawney Area High School in October.
â€śA new activity we have is a ropes course,â€ť a confidence builder for the students who participate, Barnett said.
â€śItâ€™s elevated, and they go through various obstacles weaving in and out of the ropes,â€ť he said. â€śAt the end of the course, the students can jump onto a hydraulic hoist that lowers them to the ground.â€ť
Barnett noted that all the activities are safe, and all equipment is maintained by the National Guard.
â€śAll of our guys are certified by the state for carnival operations to run rides,â€ť he said. â€śIf they come in and weâ€™re doing something wrong, they shut us down. Weâ€™ve never had anyone get hurt, and when the climbing wall was here, the faculty, staff and students had a lot of fun with it.â€ť
The Guard also provides physical fitness training for kids during the evening hours to conduct the training courses and coordinates volleyball tournaments.
Barnettâ€™s territory encompasses the Indiana area up to Brookville, Clairon-Limestone and Jeff Tech.
â€śOnce we bring these activities into the schools both the teachers and the students ask for us to bring them back,â€ť he said.
Not just anyone may take part in activities such as the climbing wall, unless they are at least 14 years old and have their parents sign a permission slip.
Scheduling for this school year and spring and summer has already begun.
â€śAny teacher or administrator who would like us to bring one of our activities to their school, all they have to do is get in touch with me, and Iâ€™ll put them on the schedule,â€ť Barnett said.
He noted that the Guard doesnâ€™t come to school just to recruit.
â€śWe will perform classroom presentations in civilian clothes,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s our way to give something back to the community for the schools that have done so much for us. We donâ€™t talk about recruiting at all unless a student would like more information.â€ť
For more information regarding the free programs that the Guard offers, call Barnett at 724-357-1950.