Fitness

Wildcats Walk: OJR takes 2.7 million steps in 30 minutes

Students at French Creek Elementary School, 3590 Coventryville Road, South Coventry, donned their walking shoes on Thursday for a fundraising walkathon hosted by the school’s PTA.

PHOTOS: French Creek Elementary Wildcats walk-a-thon

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA French Creek Elementary School fourth grade students, Alexis Little and Cadence Helms took part in a dance party following the school’s walk-a-thon on Oct. 18, the school PTA purchased each student and staff member a pedometer to encourage students as Chester County worked to become the healthiest county in America.   View more photos.

French Creek PTA already had two successful walk-a-thons as fundraisers. This year, when French Creek PTA officials learned that Chester County was vying for the title of Healthiest County in America and encouraging residents to collect steps toward the WalkWorks Chesco program, PTA organizers decided to quantify the amount of steps taken by the students to apply toward Chesco’s Billion step goal. Even though Chester County reached a billion steps prior to Oct. 18, the students and staff were still energized to walk to help Chester County rank as one of the Healthiest Counties in America.

At first, PTA considered using a set of school pedometers and multiplying an average step count by the number of student walkers to arrive at an estimated collective step count. While that method was a means to quantify steps, they saw an opportunity to build unity and an invested interest in walking by allowing the school to work as a team to step it up for all of Chester County.

As an organization, PTA voted to purchase each student and staff member a pedometer, allowing the school to think outside their school community and work with the entire county toward a cause. “It is also very exciting to consider all the ways students and families might be encouraged to take more steps throughout the year,” said Laura Mulholland, PTA President, who explained that PTA was working with the school on some other ways for kids and families keep walking to collect steps this year. Mulholland and her son are already conditioning to run in Owen J. Roberts Best Buddies/Ed Foundation Neon Color Run 5K on Nov. 4. Staff and families have even been walking before the start of school in the mornings.

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA French Creek Elementary sixth grader, Dysen Neill, center, is doing the dab during the school’s walk-a-thon on Oct. 18, the school PTA purchased each student and staff member a pedometer to encourage students as Chester County worked to become the healthiest county in America. View more photos.

“The Wildcat Walk is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Mulholland. She explained that the initiative is a low-cost, high-return fundraiser that not only takes the burden off of families to sell “stuff” (including low-nutrition foods), but also ties fundraising to healthy physical activity. A walkathon provides the school an opportunity to send consistent, positive health messages and gives students an extra energy break during the school day.

French Creek Elementary staff and students measured 2,724,363 steps during their 30-minute walk. They calculated that equated to about 1,090 miles, which could have taken them from French Creek to Disney World (1,015 miles).

The Owen J. Roberts School District is participating in the Chesco WalkWorks challenge in many ways. The district sponsored a public hike in Warwick County Park as part of the designated Chester County Walks Day on Sept. 23. The district will also hold the Neon Color Run/Walk 5K on main campus on Nov. 4. East Vincent Elementary will encourage school-wide walking with an annual Turkey Trot, week-long walking challenge. West Vincent Elementary had a walkathon on Oct. 17.

Other schools are making plans to step it up. Last month, North Coventry Elementary School, with 655 students, 85 staff, police and fire officials, and 125 parents and friends participating, crashed through a goal of 10 million steps tallying a grand total of 14,037,828 steps.

— Information provided by Owen J. Roberts School District

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