It’s not unusual to find some Tavelli Elementary students walking in place at their desks or running extra laps around the playground. These extra steps are helping their fitness while also letting them see amazing parts of the world.
Tavelli fourth and fifth-graders are participating in a two-month Global Children’s Challenge, a health initiative that gets kids to increase their activity level while taking part in a virtual walk to 50 interesting places in the world. With sponsorship from the LSI Corporation in Fort Collins, the Tavelli students are wearing pedometers to measure their daily steps, which they report to their teacher each day. The teacher enters the class average of steps on the GCC website that converts the number into distance and takes them on a virtual tour of the place that they’ve “walked” to that day. They learn about the geography, history and the culture of each place they visit.
Tavelli students began their virtual journey at Niagara Falls, Canada, learning fun facts about the Falls. After one day of walking, the 24-member class averaged walking 11,598 steps. Their second stop was Hamilton, Canada, which they learned is a favorite spot for Hollywood to shoot movies.
“It’s interesting how many steps we need to take to actually get to a place in the world and then we get to learn about that place,” said fifth-grader Charity Luce. “I learned that about one million bathtubs of water go through Niagara Falls every hour. I think that’s pretty amazing.”
Fifth-grade teacher Kyle Deck has seen an increase in his students’ activity level with them squeezing in extra steps any way they can. “Kids are walking in place at their desks. The students’ activity has increased tenfold,” he said.
Since students wear the pedometers all day, Deck said the program extends beyond school and has a positive impact on families at home. “Parents are taking their kids on more walks just so they can get in more steps. I think it’s important that we not only think of wellness at school, but also involve families,” he said.
Fifth-grader Fernando Acevedo likes the GCC program because he gets more exercise. “Instead of sitting down at home, I run around while listening to music. When I’m at school, I run in place,” said Acevedo, who recorded a whopping 25,202 steps on his first day. “My parents like this because each day we run three laps around the neighborhood.”
Tavelli principal Christine Hendricks said the GCC program supports Tavelli’s wellness efforts and the school’s new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) focus. “With this activity, we do math, science, geography and social studies,” she said. “We’re including movement in our day and we’re learning about different places.”