Thursday, October 9, 2008

Second annual event gets kids walking

More Photos

Photo and Press Release by: Jeannie Frisco
Posted by: Vicky Thomas

Part of Walk to School Week:

Instead of sitting in classrooms and riding buses Wednesday, many area students got out and got their hearts pumping with events scheduled as part of International Walk to School Week.

The event is sponsored by Activate Martinsville-Henry County, a local group that encourages healthy lifestyles. Its mission is to make Martinsville and Henry County a more fun, healthy and desirable place to live by increasing walking, biking and increased physical activity as a part of everyday life.

“This is the second year Activate has championed this event partnering with local schools,” said Melissa Gravely, education/outreach coordinator for Activate. “We are ecstatic to see more schools embracing the idea of walking school buses. This event, where students were dropped off at a designated site and were escorted by teachers, parents and other volunteers to their schools, has grown from one school participating last year to three schools this year.”

In Henry County, Laurel Park Middle School, Collinsville Primary and Axton, Irisburg and John Redd Smith elementary schools participated in walking activities.

Laurel Park students walked the track during their P.E. classes. P.E. teacher Mellissa Carroll, who coordinated their “Walk to School Day” event, tied the walking activity to a math problem. Students used math skills to calculate the distance from four students’ homes and then figured out how many laps each student would have to walk to meet that distance.

At Collinsville Primary, a P.E. teacher created a virtual walk to local establishments (i.e. Wal-Mart, a grocery store, the mailbox). At each stop, students talked about making good and healthy choices and ways to increase physical activity.

In Martinsville, three schools participated in walking school buses. Patrick Henry Elementary School students met at nearby J. Frank Wilson Park early Wednesday morning and walked to school from the park. Martinsville Middle School students met at nearby BB & T parking lot on Church Street and walked to the entrance of the school on Brown Street.

At Albert Harris Elementary School, students met at two drop-off locations: one at nearby Dr. Dana O. Baldwin Memorial Park and the other on the corner of Smith Road and Swanson Street. After getting dropped off, the students walked to the main entrance in the back of the school.

“We have so much to be proud of here, and I feel so lucky to be part of a community that embraces its children and goes the extra mile to volunteer and be a part of this wonderful event,” Allyson Rothrock, interim director of The Harvest Foundation, said in a news release.

“There were fireman, rangers from Fairystone Park, Sparky, the fire dog, parents and others out at 7 this morning ensuring our children were escorted safely to their prospective schools.”

Jeannie Frisco, Activate program director, said student participation was up 57 percent from last year. “Children got up, got out and got active, fighting the current obesity trend for at least one day,” Frisco said. “It appeared everyone was enjoying themselves as they socialized and walked with friends. We look forward to even more schools participating next year.”

Activate gave incentives to schools and students that participated in Walking School Bus events. The school that has the highest ratio of student participation will receive a “Golden Sneaker” award and $750. This money can be used to provide educational opportunities encouraging increased physical activity for students and/or families; to purchase school equipment to promote physical activity among students; or to support school-wide contests or events that encourage increased physical activity. Five students who participated in a Walking School Bus will win a $100 gift certificate to Foot Locker to purchase a new pair of walking shoes.

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