Kids take fitness in stride, and then some
From: Times Colonist, Victoria Canada
By: Jeff Bell
The collective energy of a bunch of eight- and nine-year-olds goes a long way.
At Cloverdale Traditional School (the name has officially changed now that the elementary facility has the go-ahead to follow a “traditional” school model in September), students in Gale Penner’s Grade 3 class and Ian Macpherson’s Grade 3/4 group are two weeks into the Victoria School Wellness Challenge — and have already charged past one of their major goals.
Wellness Challenge creator Scott Beddall, whose godson Logan Diamond is one of Mrs. Penner’s students, said all of the children have been given pedometers to keep track of how far they walk and run each day. The hope was that they would make it across Vancouver Island by the time the program wraps up June 12.
Logan Diamond and Tasmin Laal show off the pedometers they’ve been putting to good use at Cloverdale Traditional School.
“The original goal was just to cross Vancouver Island in 30 days,” Beddall said. “But these students are doing so well we’ve had to shift it up to crossing Canada because they’ve already walked so far. They did 904 kilometres in four days.”
Fresh from an in-class striding-and-exercise session led by Mrs. Penner, nine-year-old Solan Baragar said he knew just how far he and his friends had already travelled.
“We’ve walked across the Island and halfway back!”
He said his classmates are using their pedometers every day and having fun keeping track of how far they go.
Mrs. Penner said the students are full of enthusiasm for the Wellness Challenge, which also emphasizes healthy eating.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “They love it. They’re actually moving.”
The students have even taken to doing high-step walking in the halls to maximize their movement, she said.
Beddall said the Wellness Challenge is a full-fledged community effort. Several businesses have given their support by supplying all of the pedometers and healthy snacks the program requires, and the Greater Victoria school board has been supportive since it was all just an idea.
He said a leadership program he was taking in Vancouver through Landmark Education inspired his plan.
“It centres around building a community project that makes a difference. I wanted to set it up in a way that kids could really stay interested and get motivated about physical fitness and nutrition.”
The program comes at time when health issues and their relation to diet and exercise are very topical, Beddall said.
“Diabetes rates are flying up, and childhood obesity is tied right in with that.”
The Wellness Challenge also fits into the goals of the province’s two-year-old ActNow B.C. initiative, which promotes a range of health- and fitness-related issues, Beddall said.
He said he had a lot of help getting the program up and running, particularly from Winona Pugh, and is hoping to do more in the future.
“We’re going to look at ways next year that we can build this up and include more schools.”
Leadership Victoria is teaming up with Rob Reid from Frontrunners to make the annual Mad Hatter Fun Run on June 2 an event to remember.
The three-kilometre run, started by Reid in 2003, takes place on the Oak Bay Tea Party parade route just before the floats, bands and other parade entries head out from Windsor Park. With the help of the Leadership Victoria “Street Feet” team, this year’s run will be raising awareness of the needs of Victoria’s homeless, as well as giving participants a chance to donate personal-care items to the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s shelter program.
Cost of entry in the run will be $5, along with an item for Cool Aid. Socks, underwear, toothbrushes and hygiene products are among the needs.
Registration forms can be picked up at Frontrunners’ Victoria and Langford locations, or Bellla on Johnson Street. Entry fees and donations can be dropped off at these sites, or at the registration desk on run-day.
Organizers are hoping the special cause being supported at this year’s event will help double the field of runners, which usually numbers about 100.