Jan Richey, a 5th Grade Teacher at West Broadway, explained to iSurf News that, “Last spring, I read an article about a school in Florida that was incorporating ‘walking’ with their students to try and improve their overall fitness. With this in mind, the 4th and 5th grade teachers here at West Broadway met and decided to start a program for our students.  We are calling it our "Step Up" Program. We’ll be using this ‘theme’ all year to encourage our students to ‘step up’ their amount of exercise and to ‘step up’ their classroom work to help raise our test scores.”

After the faculty had agreed to move forward, Richey said that she contacted Ed Wallace at the Hopkins County YMCA, who agreed to take the idea of the “Step Up” Program to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Team. From there, the RWJF agreed to support and/or fund the new program by providing pedometers for each student in the 4th and 5th grade. The pedometers will be handed out this upcoming Monday, September, 27th, at 8:30am.

Once each of the 4th and 5th grade students have received a pedometer, the number of steps individual students take in the mornings before school starts will be recorded in a log.

“Rather than sitting on the bleachers in the mornings talking or playing around, our 4th and 5th grade students will now have the opportunity to walk around the gym from 7:15-7:30am in order to accumulate ‘steps,'" said Richey.

As Richey explained, each homeroom will have a “logger” that will distribute the pedometers each morning and then log the number of steps each person has taken onto a spreadsheet after the pedometers are turned back in at 7:30.  From there, the spreadsheet will be taken to their respective math classes where the students and teachers will add up and graph the steps taken. At the end of each month, the graphs will be posted for all the homerooms. The homeroom, as well as the individual student, that has taken the most steps during that month will be rewarded with a prize.

In addition, the student with the most steps at the end of the year will receive a reward as well. According to Richey, the Hopkins County Family YMCA has "graciously donated" the following prizes to the individuals that log the most steps all year long:

1st place: 1 Free Family Membership to the YMCA for a full year
2nd place: 6 month Free Family Membership to the YMCA
3rd place: 1 year Individual Youth Membership to the YMCA
4th place- 6 month Free Individual Youth Membership to the YMCA

“These prizes are phenomenal,” stated Richey, “simply because not only can the winning child go to the YMCA to continue their exercise, but their entire family can go, too. They can swim, play basketball, volleyball—all kinds of physical activities will be available to them for free just for taking steps in the mornings before school starts.”

Throughout this school year, teachers will be encouraging the kids by telling them that it takes "small steps to make big things happen.”

As a culminating activity and as a kickoff to state testing in April 2011, West Broadway’s faculty and staff currently plans to take their “steps” outside and walk downtown around the courthouse area in the spring. In addition, the school plans on contacting local, downtown businesses to take a short break from their work and "step out" with the kids and teachers as a way to “encourage our kids to ‘step it up’ on the State test,” said Richey.

For the kids stepping up their efforts on the state test, the YMCA is donating their swimming pool for to bring the students out one afternoon for a day of swimming and healthy snacks at the end of the year.

“It's just incredible to have such amazing support for the YMCA,” said Richey. “They are truly all about promoting healthy lifestyles and implementing fitness into the lives of the kids in Hopkins County.  Without them, our project would not be possible. The kids are excited, the teachers are excited and most of all, hopefully we will have healthier and happier kids just from taking a few ‘steps’ each day.”

Luke Short
iSurf News

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Posted on 2/2/14
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