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Winners Blaze a Trail to Greater Health with Fire Up Your Feet

Catherine is a senior communications professional helping social change organizations tell their story in powerful ways. She has expertise in public health, environmental stewardship, philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter @CatBrozena

Morning exercise regimens, virtual Olympics and a little bit of healthy peer pressure — these were just some of the ways that the latest cadre of Fire Up Your Feet participants achieved their wins.

This year’s Spring Activity Challenge just wrapped up and the results are in. Several schools are walking away with cash awards that will put them on the path to even greater success, helping them build school environments that strengthen and support opportunities for more physical activity. Schools use the award money to purchase PE and sports equipment, install bike racks or support other physical activity, walking and biking programs.

In all, 239 schools in eight states and the District of Columbia — all in regions where Kaiser Permanente operates — received awards totaling over $90,000. Awards ranged from $250 all the way to $5,000 for first place awards.

Fire Up Your Feet is a core program of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership that aims to increase physical activity before, during and after the school day. The program supports students, parents, school staff and teachers in K – 8 schools in creating healthy, active lifestyles through a host of free resources including an online activity tracker, a school fundraising organizer, and inspiration from many success stories and idea builders.

The stories are still rolling in, but below are just a few highlights from this season’s participants that show the power of this program to inspire and build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Visit the Fire Up Your Feet website to learn more about the program and view a full list of winners.

Stonebrae Elementary School, California – winner of the 1st Place Award in Northern California

“Fire Up Your Feet has served as a reminder for our families to be more active. They are motivated by the act of logging their activity and seeing the minutes and miles add up. In the process, they are inviting family members and friends to join them because it’s fun! The kids love it because they see their parents being more active and they do activities as a family. It’s also been really great for the school because we were able to buy new sports equipment and supplies for the PE classes with the award from the Fall Challenge. We hope to use money from the Spring Challenge to buy new equipment for recess and the after-school program.”

~ Debbie Jelincic, parent and volunteer with Healthy School Initiatives

Read more about Stonebrae’s win in the San Leandro Patch.

Afya Public Charter Middle School, Maryland – winner of the 3rd Place Marathon Kids, Ready, Set, Go Award

“Our mission is to teach our kids about physical and mental health. We live in an urban environment, so the health choices around our schools aren’t always positive, and teaching our kids to make good choices is important. So, our school is designed for Fire Up Your Feet … sometimes kids don’t have the time to reflect on things; this gave them a moment to monitor their activity, to think about their health and it opened up a huge discussion for us in terms of health, wellness and being proactive and helped both kids and families set goals for being active.

~ Scott Johnson, Student Support Coordinator

Scott Mills Elementary School, Oregon – winner of the 2nd Place Ready, Set, Go Award

Scott Mills Elementary FUYF

“For some time, a plan had been brewing in my mind: let’s set a goal to have our students run the distance from our town to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. And let’s do it all during PE (no outside of school running). It was a daunting goal of 6,776 miles … and I had no budget. Could we even do it? How would I keep the kids motivated? Was I biting off more than I could chew?

“Well, our school participated in the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge in the fall and won a $500 award. I spent a portion of the money on colored chains and running tokens to be given to each student for every 5 miles they achieved. And thus,”Run to Rio” was born.

Scot Mills Elementary FUYF2“Day after day, the kids ran. Some started out walking at first, but pretty soon they were jogging, and as their stamina and confidence grew, pretty soon they were running. They learned about pacing (even the kindergartners), and as the mileage line on the map grew, so did their excitement.

“The staff helped a bit … with miles added from their February Wellness Challenge, but that made it all the greater because the kids got to see the adults in their school modeling fitness.

“Yes, we made it, all 6,776 miles. However, it didn’t stop with just running. As the kids became excited about the possibility of actually reaching the goal, the staff decided to take it one step further. We planned an Olympic-style ceremony to celebrate our success. Each class chose a country to represent, and on the day of the celebration, we had a parade of countries, a medals ceremony (each and every student got to stand on the podium and receive their chain of tokens … and some earned enough miles for a bronze, silver or gold medal as well — talk about powerful), and an assembly featuring Olympic bronze medal decathlete, Dave Johnson.

“I think you can see from our kids’ faces that it was truly an amazing event. In fact, the kids are already asking ‘Where are we running to next year?'”

~ Helen Plov, 7th/8th grade teacher

Peiffer Elementary School, Colorado – winner of 1st Place Award and Bike Colorado Award

Peiffer Elementary FUYF“We really took the spring challenge to ride bikes more often to heart at Peiffer. On the very first day of the challenge we only had 4 bikes parked in our bike rack. Every day this number grew and grew (excluding our lovely spring snowy days)! Our best biking day by far was on May 4th when we celebrated Bike-to-School Day. Even with our 6th graders being away at outdoor lab, we packed our rack with over 60 bikes!

Bike- and Walk-to-School Days are a celebration at Peiffer. Parents organize a bike train. Teachers organize a walking bus for the bus riders. A human tunnel and cheers greet students! Music plays while firefighters give out stickers and high fives for wearing helmets. Last, but not least, to help sustain our healthy commuters, Peiffer PTA invited The HONEY Project to feed our students and volunteers a healthy snack using each of the five food groups.

We tracked the students biking using a Colorado map. Starting with just the challenge of North to South, 280 miles, the students started pedaling. In the first week, they wheeled their way beyond the 280 miles. Next, they crossed the state East to West with an additional 380 miles. This crisscrossing across the state continued until we had logged over 2000 miles!

~ Ashley Graves, parent/guardian







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