Indoor Walking Trails Help SCSD Students’ Fitness

     Published on 7/24/18   Tagged under:    District News    Bellevue Elementary School    Dr Weeks Elementary School    HW Smith K-8 School    Porter Elementary School    PSLA @ Fowler   

This is a photo of four young students standing next to a walking trail arrow in their school hallway.“This is so peaceful,” HW Smith third grader Ja’zeir Brown said as he walked with his enrichment class along the school’s indoor walking trail. “When we’re on the trail, we go past classrooms so we have to be quiet.”
 
Thanks to a Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Grant, a partnership between the SCSD and the Onondaga County Health Department, students at all SCSD elementary schools will soon have the same opportunity for quiet reflection while getting fit. Indoor walking trails have already been installed in Bellevue, HW Smith, Dr. Weeks, Porter and PSLA at Fowler. New trails will be installed at Delaware, LeMoyne, McKinley-Brighton, Huntington, Franklin, Roberts, Meachem, Van Duyn, Syracuse Latin, Dr. King and McCarthy at Beard over the summer and will be ready to use this fall.
 
To help students – especially in the elementary grades – meet New York State Education Department requirements for physical activity, all K-3 students will be encouraged to use the walking trails for at least 10 minutes each day.
 
“I like to exercise,” Porter sixth grader Shania Donald explained. “My mom brings me to the gym sometimes, but it’s fun to exercise in school with the walking trail as a competition!”
 
“You can get healthy while you walk, so this helps keep us healthy even when it’s cold out,” HW Smith student Elizabeth Kumah said.
 
At Porter, one lap around the trail equals a quarter mile. Last school year, to help students become excited about the trail, the school hosted a Panda-Fit Walk-A-Mile contest. The Onondaga County Health Department provided pedometers, and teachers encouraged their students to continue their good walking habits outside of school. Two homerooms tied for first place, each completing more than 16 miles in just three weeks.
 
“A three-week contest is not going to change hearts, minds or physical activity habits,” Porter School Nurse Judy Holmes acknowledged. “But we do hope that we generated awareness among the children of the importance of physical activity and how a simple walk can be an important step toward fitness.”
 
Porter and HW Smith staff say they have been brainstorming new activities to introduce this fall to continue promoting health and fitness in school.
 
At HW Smith, Peaceful Schools Health & Fitness Enrichment Teacher Meghan Hallihan plans to use the indoor walking trail for a ‘Walk Across America’ challenge. Students will walk the number of miles it takes to get to certain cities, tracking their progress on a map. When they ‘make it’ to those cities, they will have a celebration! Porter Physical Education teacher Mason Winters said he eventually hopes to create an outdoor trail as well.
 
“The walking trail helps students to support an active lifestyle beyond the gymnasium and throughout the day,” Mr. Winters explained. “It can also help reduce stress when students need a break from the classroom. I have received a significant amount of positive feedback from students and teachers who have benefitted from utilizing the trail.”
 
The trails are customized to each school building, featuring school colors, a school logo or a school saying. They also include health messages, encouraging students to eat three cups of veggies, two cups of fruit, drink milk and water, choose whole grains and more. At some schools, like McCarthy at Beard, students will help create posters in art class that contain fitness messages and will be displayed on the walls along the trail.
 
Thank you to the Onondaga County Health Department for helping to fund these new trails to help SCSD students stay active all year long!