Gaming and sports 'Kinect'

Using all of her strength, Suzy Hill threw her arms in the air as if playing table tennis.

She was, in fact, playing table tennis — just not with an actual table or ball.

The game was on the Kinect Xbox video game system, and Suzy was playing during her physical education class activity in school.

"I like it, it's fun," said Suzy, 14. "You can get exercises done."

Suzy is one of the students at the new Fusion Academy, which is incorporating the game system into its physical education classes.

Part of being forward-thinking in combating childhood obesity and keeping students active, Fusion Academy is incorporating video games into its physical education classes.

The students get to play competitive sports like soccer, volleyball, running and tennis, but without the pressure and the requirement of being athletic, said Associate Director Lester Clowes.

"The Kinect Xbox is such an innovative console because it brings exercise to the forefront of our lives," said Kevin Reilly, 16. "We have a generation of kids that sit around and play video games and eat junk food. And now that same generation is exposed to exercises and interacting with one another."

The new sixth- through 12th-grade private school, which opened Jan. 4 in Huntington Beach, offers one-on-one instruction and provides gifted students, struggling students or ones with learning disabilities an opportunity to shine, Clowes said.

The students continue to participate in traditional PE classes outdoors, but the video games are just another way of keeping them interested and active, he said.

"We're trying to do it in a creative way," Clowes said. "But at the same time, we're trying to take PE to the next level and really try and really bring it to children's comfort zone."

Clowes said many students are put off by the idea of traditional physical education classes because they involve a lot of competition, and not every student has an athletic body or the abilities to compete.

"Some students know they are not athletic," he said. "It takes PE to a whole other level. The students are going through the physical actions, but they are doing it in a contained environment, so they are comfortable with it."

The school attracts three types of students: those who have learning disabilities but can do well in a one-on-one environment, those suffering from social anxiety and depression; and those who are gifted and can finish high school in three instead of four years, Clowes said.

The video game sports are perfect for those types of students, he said.

"What the Kinect does is it really allows the students to work in an environment that's comfortable for them," Clowes said.

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