Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, improve your mental and physical health, and build strong hand-eye coordination. Adding a little music into the mix can also be used as a huge motivating tool during a workout – and it’s uplifting to jam out to music while staying active!

Karen Wilcox, educator at Northwood Elementary School, envisioned an opportunity for her students to enjoy exercise by incorporating it into a fun music routine. Thanks to Power of the Dollar® members, she was awarded a $1,000 grant in December 2022 for her “Keeping the Beats and Hearts Alive” project, and she then turned her vision into a reality by using the funds toward purchasing rubber exercise balls, rhythm sticks, 17-gallon buckets, and heart rate monitors to introduce cardio drumming to her students!

Students cardio drumming

Students Cardio Drumming

“I thought it would great for them to do it [cardio drumming],” said Wilcox. “With the funding, I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to buy all the exercise balls, the stands, and then the rhythm sticks. The music teacher came in and she was like: ‘Yes! I’ve been trying to teach them this with the rhythm sticks!’ The fact that they’re doing the cardio with it is amazing!”

Facing a projector screen in the gymnasium, students drum rhythm sticks onto a rubber exercise ball to the beat of various songs with the help of a video and their instructor (Wilcox) showing different rhythmic exercise movements. Using a well-balanced range of fast-paced songs to slow-paced songs, cardio drumming gives the students a chance to elevate rhythm, coordination, heart rate, and even enjoy math lessons based off certain patterns – and they’re having a “ball” with the new equipment.

“They were saying how they’re practicing at home and to me that says a lot because they take it from school and they do it outside of school,” she said. “Some days it’s really hot outside or some days it’s really cool, they’ll say: ‘Can we just stay inside and do cardio drumming?’ Overall, it’s been really good, and they’ll ask for it, which means a lot!”

Looking to help local schools, invest in your community, and support educators like Karen Wilcox? Make a tangible, positive impact by joining the collective giving of our Power of the Dollar® membership. Learn more at www.firstmarkcu.org/checking, and together, we can create pathways that lead to better lives and stronger communities.