Panther Gym Kids (Kindergym)

The Panther Gym Kids (Kindergym) program was established in 1984 by Dr. Rip Marston in response to the need to provide students in training for early childhood education and elementary physical education a learning environment working with young children.

The Panther Gym Kids program involves primarily a Saturday morning session in the Wellness Recreation Center designed to provide a variety of physical activities for children aged 2-5 yrs is currently under the direction of Ms. Katie Farwell and supervision of UNI students. Panther Gym Kids was developed around the philosophy that young children benefit by being exposed to a variety of activities that require the utilization of an array of physical, social, and cognitive skills. Although the primary objective of the program's activities is to encourage the child's use of a variety of motor skills, learning opportunities that occur which encourage thinking and/or social skills are not ignored. Panther Gym Kids believes that children need to feel liked, to be challenged, and to sense pride in their accomplishments.

Parental education is also a component of the Panther Gym Kids program encouraging parents to play with their children and receiving educational materials related to children's health. Historically a teaching and service program, the Panther Gym Kids program has recently provided School of KAHHS faculty with opportunities to train students in research protocol used in assessing body composition and motor development in young children.

Panther Gym Kids has provided a rich environment for scholarly pursuits. The program has generated material for approximately 10 articles, 25 presentations/workshops, and several chapters in books. Recently the program has provided a study population for School of KAHHS faculty to validate objective measures of physical activity. This work is published in the scientific journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise (June 2000).

In addition to its present activities, the Panther Gym Kids staff has played an important role in providing in-service training of preschool teachers for the planning and delivery of movement programs in the Freeburg Early Childhood Center and will provide training workshops for the Rural Iowa Preschool Movement Startup Project.

The objectives of the Panther Gym Kids program include:

  • Develop new movement patterns; refine existing ones.
  • Increase movement proficiency through observational learning and problem solving.
  • Enhance self-concept through experiencing success and enjoyment in movement.
  • Learn to relate to unfamiliar adults and children, and to adjust to a new environment.
  • Develop a movement vocabulary.

The parent's involvement in the program will vary from session to session but will include:

  • Participation with the child as a partner or teacher.
  • Observe the skill development of children.
  • A journal assessment of the program at the end of the semester.
  • To have fun and enjoy the time with the child.
  • Link to Panther Gym Kids photo gallery

A parent or guardian is requested to accompany the child during each session. We have found that most children feel more secure when a "familiar face" is near by and although care is taken in providing a challenging, yet safe environment, the adult is still essential in promoting safe behaviors and activities within this environment. We also request that when circumstances dictate that older siblings must accompany the adult and Panther Gym Kids participant to the session, the older child take a passive role during the session so as not to inhibit or endanger the younger children.

Thanks again for your interest in Panther Gym Kids. If you have any questions, or if I may be of assistance in any way, please don't hesitate to write or call.

Dr. Rip Marston Program Administrator
Panther Gym Kids

Katie Farwell
Panther Gym Kids
WRC 119
School of HPELS

Dr. Rip Marston
Program Administrator
WRC 119
School of Kinesiology, Allied Health & Human Services