By Susan Riddell
To get extra steps, Carley Hoskins would wear hers while she and her two best friends would go for neighborhood walks.
Daniel Rogers would play tennis with his clipped to his shorts.
Spencer Dubbels carried his in his pocket while at soccer or baseball practice.
These Manchester Elementary School (Clay County) students were sporting pedometers as they competed for prizes last spring in a districtwide initiative to get students moving and headed toward better health and wellness.
“This has been a wonderful experience for our district,” said Deann Allen, instructional supervisor for the Clay County school district. “And we’re excited about what we’re going to do with it this fall.”
Participating 4th and 5th graders in Clay County wore pedometers last winter and spring, compiling as many steps as possible. Steps were entered into a computer program that compiled all the data across the district. Classes competed against one another, and students with the highest individual steps also were rewarded.
Winners received prizes such as footballs, pogo balls or water bottles. Students also wrote essays related to the pedometers, and prizes were awarded for those, too.
The event culminated in a Wii party where top-stepping students moved and grooved to Just Dance 2 songs like “Tik Tok,” “Proud Mary” and “Viva Las Vegas.”
Rogers had the most steps in his 4th-grade class, so he got to participate in all the fun.
“I play tennis, baseball and soccer, so I was able to get a lot of steps that way,” Rogers said. “One day I had five tennis matches and finished with 20,000 steps.”
Clay County schools collaborated with Kosair Children’s and Manchester Memorial hospitals in this effort. Kosair supplied the district with approximately $15,000 worth of pedometers. Students at all seven elementary schools – Big Creek, Oneida, Burning Springs, Goose Rock, Paces Creek, Hacker and Manchester – participated.
While having fun and getting the students more active were key components of the project, sponsors also wanted to make sure learning was incorporated, too.
Marion Collins, a 4th-grade science teacher at Manchester Elementary, had his students do a lesson titled “Get Moving” in honor of Healthy Heart Month. Students had to list and write essays about ways to be active and get healthy. When completing activities for this lesson, several students included the use of pedometers.
“The students said that using the pedometers was a great way to count their steps and see just how much moving they have done,” Collins said.
“One student wrote about how he and his dad played baseball,” Collins added. “Another said she ran around in circles in the living room. The running in circles was one of my favorites. One student said the first day he got his, he ran outside around the house to get steps. One student said he would wear his when playing the Nintendo Wii. Several students said they wore theirs to basketball practice.”
Students tried to record the number of steps it would take to walk roughly 1,000 miles to Houston. Teachers plotted students’ progress on a map and incorporated geography and history lessons around events that happened in places along the way.
“We’re going to do even more with lessons in the fall,” Allen said. “We have a lot of great ideas about expanding this concept.”
One thing teachers don’t have to worry about is motivating the students.
“The students were challenging me on steps each day,” Collins said. “They would want to see if they could beat me in the number of steps obtained each day. They were even going home and walking, playing ball or some other activity in order to get more steps than me. This was so great to see. The students were getting out from in front of their televisions and video games to walking and participating in other physical activities. Another favorite of mine was watching the students take the long way to gym or walking up and down the rows in the classroom to get more steps than me by the end of the day. ”
Collins said he plans to center more lessons around the pedometers for this school year, since the students are more used to them.
“I do plan on having more challenges with the students that center around the pedometers,” Collins said. “I think the use of the pedometers has had a huge impact on getting our children outside and exercising more. It has also made them more aware of the importance of being active and healthy.”
Deann Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org, (606) 598-2168