"Without support and funding from Harvest, we would be unable to develop, promote and sustain initiatives to address health issues and work toward a healthier future for Martinsville and Henry County. "
- Barbara Jackman, Executive Director - MHC Coalition for Health and Wellness
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Students' legs get a workout

October 6, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Jaquan Carter, a third-grader at Mt. Olivet Elementary School, likes to run, walk and jump rope while he’s at home, and on Wednesday, he got to do so at school as part of International Walk to School Day.

“When you exercise, you can play,” he said.

About 3,000 county and city school students participated in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, according to Cari Zimmer with Activate Martinsville Henry County.

Most of the students participated during the morning. At Mt. Olivet Elementary School, it was an all-day event, with six bicycles provided by Activate to show the students other ways to get active, according to Zimmer.

Throughout the day at Mt. Olivet, groups of students were taken out to the parking lot — which was set up like a neighborhood — and had the opportunity to run, walk, jump rope, leap over hurdles, use hula hoops and ride bicycles and scooters, said Amanda Pulliam, physical education teacher at Mt. Olivet Elementary.

Activate was involved in each school’s event, and volunteers passed out colorful pencils with Activate’s website and slogan, “Get Active, Get Healthy, Have Fun!” on them, Zimmer said.

Mt. Olivet Elementary was the only school to request the bicycles from Activate, but they are available to any school that wants to use them, Zimmer added.

The event taught students different ways to stay active and about bike safety. They learned to wear a helmet, how to read street signs — such as U-turn and Stop, which were set up in the parking lot — how to balance on a bicycle and how to move in pathways and directions, Pulliam said.

The purpose of International Walk to School Day is to promote “walking and biking as a way of transportation” and as a means of a healthy lifestyle, said Vicki George with Activate.

These activities are something different for the students, and “it makes them aware of how much fun walking can be,” she added.

Organizers promote walking to school because it allows “kids to have fun, and walking burns off excess energy before they go into the classroom ... and teachers appreciate that,” George said.

The students at Mt. Olivet seemed to enjoy getting outside Wednesday and being able to run around and ride bikes, Pulliam said.

After walking and running around the parking lot, Jaquan was out of breath. He said exercise raised his heart rate.

Tanasia Lee, a third-grader at Mt. Olivet Elementary, was excited about riding bicycles.

“We didn’t get to have bikes last year,” she said. “It’s very fun.”

In Martinsville, buses dropped students off at parking lots near schools, then students carried signs and walked to their school, according to a news release.

From 7:20 to 7:50 a.m., Albert Harris Elementary School students walked from Swanson Street to the main office entrance, and at 7:50 a.m., Martinsville Middle School students walked from the lower BB&T parking lot near the gym/sports field to the main auditorium entrance, the release said.

From 8 to 8:35 a.m., students of Clearview Early Learning Center walked from the Refuge Temple parking lot to the school, said the release.

At Campbell Court Elementary School, students met at 8:15 a.m. on the blacktop beside their school, circled the building two times and entered the facility.

Stanleytown Elementary School will hold its International Walk to School event on Thursday, and students will be bussed in three shifts to the Bassett High School track, where they will walk from 8:30 to 9 a.m., 9:30 to 10 a.m. and 10:30 to 11 a.m.

Axton Elementary School will hold its events on Oct. 19, and Patrick Henry Elementary School will recognize the day later this month, according to Zimmer.




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