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Biking, Jogging and Bowling Their Way to Health

Fire Up Your Feet fall challenge inspires kids to get moving.


Active students are healthy students. That’s why Fire Up Your Feet is once again recognizing schools across the country for their efforts to improve the health and physical activity of students, families and school staff.

The program’s fall 2016 challenge ended in November. More than 480 schools and communities participated in activities such as walking and biking to school, morning jogs, flag football and bowling field trips. Along the way, they learned the importance of an active lifestyle, gained a sense of accomplishment and had fun.

As part of the Fire Up Your Feet challenge, schools have the opportunity to win awards that support school-based health and wellness programs. Schools can win in several categories including the greatest rate of participation, most bicycling and most walking.

Morning jogs = happy students

Students at New Market Elementary in New Market, Maryland were challenged to walk and ride to school more and to find new ways of increasing their activity.

“Participating in Fire Up Your Feet provided a cohesive focus on promoting physical activity,” said PTA member Katie Malone. “The students were highly motivated by the idea of earning money to purchase PE and recess equipment.”

At Clayton Elementary in Canton, Georgia, PE teacher Anne Cross introduced an innovative walking and jogging program that more than half of the school participated in, resulting in some sweating, smiling faces.

“Our kids love to be challenged,” said Cross. “They tell me that I am crazy for thinking that they can log as many miles as I challenge them to do. But so far, they’ve always met the goals I set for them.”

Primed for academic success

Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools launched its partnership with Fire Up Your Feet in 2013. A core initiative of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the program aims to increase physical activity before, during and after school by offering resources to schools including an online activity tracker and awards-based activity challenges in the fall and spring.

“The challenges are about much more than earning awards. They’re about empowering students and school staff to build a culture of wellness,” said Cass Isidro, executive director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. “When students live an active lifestyle, they’re healthier, happier and better prepared to achieve academic success.”

“My favorite experience from helping the students with the Fire Up Your Feet challenge was seeing how empowered they became as they told me about their success,” said PE teacher Derrick Watson of E.L. Musick Elementary School, in Newark, California. “It’s my passion to help kids get out and play, so I love seeing this!”

Check out the Fire Up Your Feet website to see the full list of fall 2016 winners — and to learn how your school can participate in the spring 2017 challenge.

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