A walking and bicycling partnership between Anderson Elementary and UNCW has transitioned into a wellness program.

WILMINGTON -- What began as a partnership between Anderson Elementary and the University of North Carolina Wilmington to encourage students to walk and ride their bikes to school has transitioned into a wellness program that encompasses the entire school. UNCW’s School of Health & Applied Human Sciences and the Terry Benjey Bicycling Foundation are the sponsors of this initiative, which utilized the Active4me app to encourage students to take more active routes to school.

Walk n Wheel Wednesdays has parents register their students on the Active4me website, and once registered, they received a bar code to attach to their back packs. Once students arrived on campus each week, their bar codes were scanned and parents received a text message or e-mail informing them of their child’s safe arrival. Participating students also received great prizes weekly.

After modest participation initially, the numbers grew from week to week, eventually resulting in the grant funding an additional bike rack, thanks to the Terry Benjey Bicycling Foundation. Kari Bishop, first-grade teacher and chair of Anderson’s wellness committee, was a great motivator for students and staff, running to school from her home each week. This has helped reduce car traffic in and around campus.

The school’s wellness efforts broadened to include adults, encompassing the annual Jump Rope for Heart campaign, which required staff to track activity and water intake. Weekly staff wellness activities were offered, including yoga, walks around Veteran’s Park, line dancing, and workout DVDs. The school’s Wednesday initiative for kids was the impetus for beginning Active Admirals, a school wellness club. K-5 students met after school twice weekly, exploring new ways to stay physically active, preparing healthy recipes, and having lots of fun while doing so.

Anderson was recently awarded Bronze status by Healthier Generation for its wellness activities, and looks forward to expanding the number of days students walk or bike to school.

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