Walking is one of the easiest, low cost ways to increase physical activity during the school day for most children. It is free, it doesn’t require any training, and it can be done inside the school or outside.
As part of our effort to increase physical activity and prevent pediatric obesity and chronic disease, the Monmouth County Health Department and Community YMCA have partnered to start School Health Councils at Bradley and Thurgood Marshall Elementary Schools in Asbury Park. Both schools have been asked to develop walking efforts to help kids take more steps towards wellness. We have used some of our Shaping NJ grant funds to purchase pedometers for the PK-4th grade students to encourage them to develop fun and creative walking programs. At Thurgood Marshall, the K and PreK classes all take a walk every day after lunch together outside around the school building. At the Bradley school, they are piloting a program called “Oh the Places You’ll Go” based on the Dr. Seuss book and they are encouraging kids to learn about NJ colleges and universities and to see how far they can “walk” on their way to get to a local university.
The Bradley School pilot involves 5 classes of 2nd graders (93 students) who wear pedometers all day long (including gym and recess) and measure the total number of steps and miles they walk during June 6th-18th. Each class has made a poster and is tracking each student’s steps every day. The goal for both schools is to learn from the pilots this Spring and then enact the program next Fall with the whole school. So far, challenges have dealt mostly with the pedometers themselves – how to best wear them (on wrist, pants or a neck lanyard), breakage, and some reset so easily that the count is not always accurate. Despite these small challenges, the kids are getting encouragement to be more active and seem to have adjusted to wearing the pedometers and it will be interesting to find out how many total steps they take and which 2nd grade class will travel the most steps to college!
For more info, contact Lisa Lee at 732-431-7456 or Lisa.Lee@co.monmouth.nj.us.