Marcel Bane’s 7th grade exploratory class walks three laps, or 1.2 miles around Martin Middle School and Valley Grande Elementary School as part of walking program initiated by Vaughan Community Health Services. Students who participate are asked to log their mileage. To motivate participants, Vaughan will award physical education equipment at the end of April to the school with the most students participating. -- Katie Wood

Area students are walking it off

Published 5:43pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Learning to walk is a milestone that marks the lives of many children and is a skill they use daily. According to Vaughan Community Health Services, walking is a form of exercise that is accessible to just about everybody.

Because walking is an exercise that requires no equipment and is easily accessible, Vaughan Community Health Services community health educator, Karen Morris, helped initiate a walking program for the Dallas County School System called “Walking Works! Dallas County Schools In Motion.”

“Vaughan Community Health Services just wanted to get these kids active. Get them walking. And because we know the obesity level — we’ve heard about that and talked about that,” Morris said. “What we’re finding out with going into the schools, is that educating these children can help us educate these parents. We do our best to educate in the community to all levels, and if these children can stay on these parents and grandparents about healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, that is one step closer to a healthier generation.”

Four schools including Valley Grande Elementary, Martin Middle School, Shiloh Elementary School and Sixth Grade Academy and Southside Primary School are currently participating in the walking program.

Martin Middle School teacher Marcel Bane said he takes his 55–minute fourth and six period exploratory classes outside to walk.

“They usually walk three laps around [Martin Middle and Valley Grande Elementary], which is 1.2 miles,” Bane said. “They usually do it in 21 minutes. We have some that carry their book bag for extra weight, to burn more calories.”

Students’ hands shot up when Bane asked his seventh graders why they participate in the walking program.

“We walk to make sure we stay healthy and to burn calories,” Chris Johnson said.

Other students said they walk to get in shape, burn calories and measure their heart rates.

The students agreed the best thing about the program is the fresh air, conversation and being outdoors.

Morris said she was glad to hear students, like Jamia Jones were sharing what they were learning at home with their parents and grandparents.

“What we want to be able to do and what the incentive was when they got through with this, was to educate parents, grandparents, whoever they lived with to talk about exercising,” Morris said.

A prime example she pointed out was Jones who goes with her grandmother to the Vaughan gym to do weights, climb stairs and walk the track together.

Laura Elliott, physical education coach at Valley Grande Elementary said her first through sixth grade students are thrilled to participate in the program.

“They always come in and ask, ‘Is today walking day,’” Elliott said, noting that her students walk on Mondays.

Valley Grande students started the walking program in October and have collectively logged more that 2,000 miles. Elliott announced to her students that they had walked the distance all the way to Santa Monica, Calif.

“Hopefully the other schools will jump on board and participate in this program,” Morris said. “We’re trying to let them know you don’t have to have equipment to exercise. We’re all about — just move.”

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