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Community keeping students active and healthy

By Katharine Calabro - kcalabro@ftimes.com

Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition is teaming up with Rossville Elementary and the Community Schools of Frankfort K-5 for its fourth year for Walk to School Day.

As HCCC continues its venture in promoting a healthier lifestyle for students in the county. On Oct. 10 students will be invited to walk to school with teachers, HCCC employees, volunteers and parents.

Walk to School Day usually occurs in the spring but this year HCCCC is trying to hold the event in both fall and spring, giving all schools opportunity to participate.

Currently, due to sidewalk work being done, Blue Ridge Elementary and Green Meadows Elementary are not able to participate but are planning for spring. Clinton Prairie and Clinton Central are also not able to participate because of the schools being on busy roads.

Over the course of the past three years, schools are seeing an increase in students participating for Walk to School Day, including Suncrest Elementary who had 135 students participate last year.

Rossville Elementary Physical Education Teacher Tammy Mohler has been getting students to participate for the last three years and has also noticed the increase. She said she thinks a dominating factor is the fact that it’s another opportunity for students and teachers to interact.

“I think they enjoy it,” Mohler said. “It’s a chance for the kids to see the teachers being active and doing something with them.”

Mohler also said it allows for students to learn healthy habits, and to get their brain active outside of the classroom. She said the more activity students are exposed to, the healthier they will be.

Students can also bike to school, according to HCCCC Executive Director Lorra Archibald. Community Schools of Frankfort will meet at three different locations to participate 30 minutes before school starts: Circle Park, Hoops Restaurant parking lot and the Fire Department on Barner Street.

Whether it’s biking or walking, Community Schools of Frankfort Assistant Superintendent Joel McKinney said HCCCC has embraced the school corporation and its student by taking initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle for youth.

“They truly are making a difference, and I can’t say enough about Healthy Communities,” he said.

McKinney will also particpate in the walk. At 7:30 a.m. McKinney will be at Circle Park to join other students and volunteers walking to Suncrest Elementary. 

Archibald said around 25 volunteers will work together to get students more active before school starts. She said each student who participates receives a gift from HCCCC this year, which was provided through Safe Kids Worldwide.

Along with other volunteers, Mayor Chris McBarnes is also participating. He said this event holds an opportunity to lead by example and show younger students it’s fun to get out and walk.

“The best form of stress relief is exercise,” McBarnes said. “Showing them even a mayor can do it... they might think it’s a cool thing.”

The event also gives students the chance to interact with adults who take time to volunteer. For McBarnes, he said it’s important to talk to kids about their dreams and this is the perfect opportunity.

“We need people who want to stick around and raise their kids and families here,” he said. “I want to let them know I chose to do it and I hope they choose the same thing.”

Archibald said it’s important to get students involved in physical activity before school. She said it’s a proven fact that students who are more active do better in school.

“The opportunity for physical activity benefits not just their bodies but their brains,” Archibald said.