Belinda Anthony and Caroline Clay, both Chukker Creek Elementary School teachers, laughed throughout a series of entertaining exercises – pretending to shoot and dribble a basketball and swing a bat and shoot invisible arrows at each other and way, way more.


“We had no idea what we were getting into, and we've had a blast,” Anthony said.


About 25 teachers attended an Aiken County International Reading Association meeting, featuring a program called Ageless Grace. The website describes the program as a large number of fun exercises that provide a “timeless fitness for the body and mind.”


Amy Conkelton, the Aiken High School librarian and the association president, previously had participated in Ageless Grace during an education conference.


The program isn't just for adults, but can be beneficial for students of all ages, she said. Conkelton wanted other teachers to experience it.


“They can do it during lunch and after school,” Conkelton said. “Anybody can use this in a school setting.”


Established by Denise Medved, Ageless Grace provides 21 exercises and dozens of accompanying songs – including Broadway, rock 'n' roll and jazz.


The sessions can stimulate creativity, imagination and analytical thinking, said Nancy Whitlock, a program educator.


Following the exercises, teachers Tamara Butler and Linda Harmon discussed the possible opportunities for their students.


“I've got a very diverse group,” said Butler, a Hammond Hill Elementary School second-grade teacher. “I've already decided to show them this tomorrow. They can get the heebie-jeebies sitting in their chairs. I want them to move and dive into things, and they won't know what I'm doing. I want them to pay attention to me before we go on to the next subject.”


Harmon teaches early childhood education to her Aiken High School students and finds Ageless Grace potentially worthwhile as well. Many of her students are considering future careers related to children.


“I'm trying all kinds of techniques to get them to children's levels,” Harmon said. “Having them participate in these creative activities can help them do it freely and without being inhibited. I want them to see the benefits, and they can share how children will benefit.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.


He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.