Story by Judy Cambigue
Did you hear about the students in Swedish schools who walk a daily mile, resulting in higher academic abilities? This report inspired me to start something similar in my classroom this year.
At the start of school, my third- and fourthgraders walk/run for five to seven minutes around a loop I have measured on the blacktop behind Spring Valley Academy’s (SVA) campus. The kids have “walking sticks” (popsicle sticks) they turn in to the day’s helper with every lap they pass. Then, they add their sticks and divide them by the number of laps they need for a mile and see the growth in our group total. It’s a real-life math lesson as we add and divide the miles to find our progress and subtract to see how far we still need to go.
Our goal, as “Fitness Friends,” is to collectively walk 480 miles on campus, the distance between SVA and Washington, D.C. When we reach our goal, we will play and picnic during a special field trip to a local park. As a teacher and leader of this program, a win for me is the rotating time I get with my walking buddies
each day as we chat and get to know each other along our course. I crave these meaningful times with my kiddos. The children do too! In fact, they are so enthusiastic to exercise each morning, they were sad the couple of times we had to skip it due to weather or school events.
“The ‘Walk to Washington, D.C.,’ is a great way to get exercise and really refreshes your mind before a long day at school. There’s nothing better than a few laps around the kickball field,” shares third-grader David Constantine. Addison Cox, also a third-grader, adds, “The reason I like the ‘Fitness Friends Walk to Washington, D.C.,’ is because I get rid of a lot of my energy, and then I behave better.” Olivia Cole, a
fourth-grader, says the walk is so much fun. “We do a routine around the cones and put our sticks in the bucket; every 10 sticks is one mile,” she explains. Fourth-grader Faith Smith loves the walk. “It’s amazing just to be able to feel proud to be one of the kids ‘walking to Washington, D.C.’ It keeps me healthy, and I always look forward to it.”
Caption: Fourth-grader Olivia Cole and third-grader Timothy Lee lead the pack as they and their classmates enjoy their morning walk/run.