Written by Michael Rouleau
Willimantic, Conn. - On April 28, the normally tidy playground of Eastern Connecticut State University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) was transformed into a muddy obstacle course for the "Fun Mudder"--a preschool version of "Tough Mudder," a military-style mud run.
The event hosted groups of children ages three to five who are enrolled in the CFDRC's preschool classroom. The two groups, each with approximately 25 children, were allowed one hour of play in the Fun Mudder course.
"The goal was simply to complete the course; not to win or get a fast time," said Darren Robert, health and physical education professor. "We want the kids to try things they normally wouldn't; to get out of their comfort zone a bit."
Some of the mud-ridden obstacles included a crawl through wet leaves under a bridge; a walk through kiddie pools filled with ice water; a slip and slide into a puddle; a balance beam; and more. The children were chaperoned and cheered on by parents, students and staff--many of whom also participated in the muddy mess to encourage the toddlers.
"This event was the culmination of the last few months of physical education work," said CFDRC Director Niloufar Rezai. "Today's obstacles required motor skills such as climbing, balancing, jumping and crawling."
The CFDRC is an early childhood development center that encourages faculty and student participation from various university departments in its events. "I wish I had this when I was a kid," said Mitchell Nysor, a junior majoring in physical education. "It's a blast; the kids have so much fun."
The real "Tough Mudder" has a charitable component to support the Armed Forces. Veteran and Eastern alumnus Brandon Strout '09, a physical education teacher at Windham Tech who helped out at the event, said, "The Fun Mudder is good because it shows the kids that fitness can be applicable to every day play. Plus, they don't often get to play in the mud."
The CFDRC would like to thank students of Windham Tech who built signs for the obstacles; all those who helped build and chaperone the course; and the late Nancy Tinker, whose work as director of the offices of Facilities Management and Planning was instrumental in the construction of the CFDRC.