Students lace up for new walking club

Published 9:37 am Thursday, May 19, 2016

Star Photo/Rebekah Price  Students at Harold McCormick are excited to start walking with their friends from West Side and East Side, as well as ball players for the Elizabethton Twins and the Elizabethton softball team in the new Walking Club.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price
Students at Harold McCormick are excited to start walking with their friends from West Side and East Side, as well as ball players for the Elizabethton Twins and the Elizabethton softball team in the new Walking Club.

It doesn’t take much to prove the health benefits of walking, but motivating kids to do it regularly is a whole different sport.

This summer, 160 students enrolled in the Extended School Program (ESP) through the Elizabethton City Schools will be able to measure their progress and will receive incentives to walk as part of a new walking club.

Carrie Taylor, ESP Director, said this is making healthy habits fun for kids, and teaching their importance at an early age.

“I think with the incentives and people we have coming in, and latching into the Tweetsie Celebration, it will really spark an interest in our kids,” Taylor said.

The top walkers will receive rewards like medals, she said, and they will likely set and achieve milestones along the way.

Walking with the elementary-aged students will be the Elizabethton Twins, the Elizabethton girls softball team and CCHD employees.

This is a way for those athletes to get involved and to be role models for the kids,” Taylor said.

The club supplies, like pedometers, water bottles and incentives, will be provided by a $2,500 grant as part of a Tennessee institute of Public Health called Regional Roadmap for a Healthier Appalachian TN.

The grant report shows Tennessee is ranked 39th for health in the nation according to America’s Health Ranking report of 2012. It states obesity, cancer deaths, infant mortality, cardiovascular death, diabetes complications and tobacco use are “notably severe.”

It states personal behaviors account for the greatest proportion of early deaths in the country and emphasizes the importance of learning healthy behaviors early in life.

To help reinforce these values and practices, children will also participate in nutritional classes on Tuesdays provided by the Carter County Health Department (CCHD).

“If we can get these kids practicing healthy lifestyles now, we can help prevent obesity and other unhealthy outcomes,” said Stephanie Hopson, a social counselor with the CCHD.

The classes will focus on health, fitness, nutrition, and reasons to avoid using tobacco, she said. This is part of the CCHD’s primary prevention initiative to fight obesity in Carter County.

The walking club will walk from 9-9:30 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays in June and July. In June, the ESP program including the walking club, will meet at West Side Elementary in June and at Harold McCormick Elementary in July.

“We’re really just trying to promote healthy lifestyle activities for kids, and hopefully they can take that home and do it with their families as well,” Hopson said.