In Poland, wellness walks work

By Denise Dick

The walking program conforms with the school district’s wellness policy.

POLAND — Pupils, teachers and staff at North Elementary School take the path to a healthy lifestyle one step at a time.

Each month — weather permitting — they walk around the school grounds to encourage physical fitness.

Principal Michael Masucci estimated that the pupils have logged about 10 miles so far this school year, about the same distance walked the year before. They lapped the school twice Tuesday, racking up about 11‚Ñ2 miles.

Fourth-graders Brionna O’Neill, Cara Hoover and Courtney Salser, all 10, wore pedometers for Tuesday afternoon’s stroll.

“It counts the steps that you take,” Brionna explained.

This marked the second time fourth-graders, who led the walk, wore the devices to keep track of their steps and convert them into miles walked.

Brionna guessed she’d taken more than 200 steps.

Cara said she likes the monthly walks, enjoying the time outside.

“You just have to make sure that you wear tennis shoes and not dress shoes,” Courtney said.

Cathy Fedor, school nurse, said the program conforms with the school district’s wellness policy aimed at promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

“There have been national studies that have shown that when students participate in physical activity, they have a better attendance record,” Fedor said.

Their student achievement test scores also improve.

It also is a way to address the high rate of childhood obesity which leads to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

“We’re trying to promote physical activity so they get used to being physically active,” Fedor said. “Walking is something really anyone can do.”

Third-graders Zackary Oliver, Noah Lee and Spencer Price, all 9, plodded along the sidewalks and lawn around the school.

Spencer, who was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, said there’s no need for special clothing. He just makes sure he wears tennis shoes on walking days.

Zackary says the monthly walks are fun.

Noah couldn’t say how far he and his fellow classmates walked.

“Our principal usually tells us the next day,” he added.

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