We’ve written before about the Walking School Bus and how an organized walk to school can improve attendance as it increases health and safety for children.
The good folks of Springfield, Mass., are taking it a step further–or a few thousand steps further–by challenging students to walk 100 miles in the school year. That’s a little more than a half mile a day. This can be accomplished by any combination of walking, jogging and running.
The 100 Mile Club is an invention of Elias Brookings School, a pre-k to 5th grade school with about 250 students, most of whom come from low-income families. About 150 of students participate, and the school tracks their progress daily and weekly. Parents have gotten involved, too, often showing up with children to walk around the school.
“We’ve noticed a huge increase in our attendance, where students would not come to school before or they would be late,” says school nurse Pam Maynard. “Now they come to school on time.” The chart to the right shows attendance rates for children involved in the program in red.
Maynard sees health benefits as well, especially for children with chronic conditions, such as asthma and seizure disorders. “They don’t feel like the diagnosis they have can hold them back any more,” she says. “They feel like athletes.”
Principal Terry Powe notes, “There’s also research on the connection between kids being active and their academics. And I can say that I truly believe it’s had an impact on our school in that regard.”
Beyond Brookings, several Springfield elementary schools are finding that the walking school board is improving attendance. A blog item on the Reading Success by Fourth Grade website details the progress made at three other schools.