During the 2011-2012 school year, students at Allegheny Valley and Sheffield elementary schools participated in walking programs funded by a grant through the Highmark Healthy High 5 School Challenge.
Focused on children's health promotion, Highmark Healthy High 5 is an initiative of the Highmark Foundation designed to improve the health of children and adolescents, ages 6-18, by providing the tools and practices needed to make informed decisions about living healthier lives.
Designed as nine-week programs, students walked for the first 10 minutes of their weekly physical education classes, using pedometers to calculate the distance. Students also walked with their classroom teachers, and had the option to walk during recess time.
Photo submitted to Times Observer
First-graders at Allegheny Valley Elementary School walk behind the school recently as part of the Highmark Healthy High 5 School Challenge.
The grant - of which $3,801 went to Allegheny Valley and $3,065 to Sheffield - paid for pedometers, books and posters, "mileage maps," record-keeping supplies, course markers, awards and field trip transportation.
Students were each given a starter chain and a "walker" token to place on their backpacks. For every five miles walked, a student received a "foot" token to place on his/her chain. For every 10 miles achieved, a student earned a certificate.
Designated as the W.A.V.E. (Walking with Allegheny Valley Elementary) Mileage Club and the Sheffield Striders Walking Club, the walking program didn't end after just nine weeks. Students continued to walk with their classroom teachers and during recess throughout the entire school year.
In the spring, students in grades 3-5 used the pedometers to train for the mile run, as part of the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test.
The programs, implemented by physical education instructor Darlene Beach, culminated with field trips to Chapman State Park, where the students walked around the park to various nature activities, wearing pedometers to calculate the distance.
Year-end mileage for students in grades K-2 at Allegheny Valley was 1,922 miles. Students in grades 3-5 at Sheffield Elementary walked 3,273 miles.