A walking club needs a walking track and both are coming to Wapakoneta Elementary School.
For more than a year, staff at the school have been working on developing a club first and then a track, springing off the idea of creating more active youth.
“We wanted to encourage active lifestyles for our students,” said Amy Burke, who teaches physical education at the elementary school. “By creating a walking club, we hope to increase activity at recess and give the students one more option to be active.”
The paved track is to be wide enough to be plowed so it also will offer outside activity in the winter.
Burke said the Walking Club is meant to give students time to walk during recess, provide classroom brain breaks, offer bonus physical education classes, and an activity to participate in before school. The plan is to track laps and miles that students walk and offer incentives along the way.
“We are still in the planning stages, but are very excited to get the program up and running,” Burke said. “This is our first step in creating a school wide activity program.”
Plans are to get the track in place by the spring.
Wapakoneta Elementary School Assistant Principal Carrie Knoch said the 1/10-mile track is expected to cost approximately $20,000 to construct and is to be funded by the school’s PTO over two years.
“We are overwhelmed by the support of our PTO on a daily basis,” Knoch said. “Whenever we ask for help, they are always willing, whether it be volunteering their time or money raised through fundraising. However, in this case, we are nearly speechless.
“We are so lucky to have the support of our families,” she said.
A $1,000 grant from the Active Schools Acceleration Project is being used to set up the elementary’s Walking Club, with the money to be used for incentives for students, as well as equipment and supplies.
Elementary school officials have worked a little bit with Wapakoneta Family YMCA officials on the walking club, but without a dedicated space, logistics became an issue. With the grant awarded in June, there was still the need to find a dedicated space for walking, Knoch said.
“The idea of a walking track as an addition to our playground appeals to us on several levels,” Knoch said.
She said a track adjacent to the playground, would be ideal since it would be easier to monitor than a parking lot or other location, however the district’s Facilities Committee is expected to determine the best place for the track.
“We believe that by adding a track it will help encourage active lifestyles in our students,” Knoch said. “The teachers are excited about the possibility of taking brain breaks and walking on the track.
She said that the community also could use it when school is not in session.
“It always makes us smile when we drive by the playground in the evening and see families playing together,” Knoch said. “We imagine that with the addition of a track, members of the community would find an additional reason to walk, run and play with their families and friends.”