Teachers at a Putnam County school are taking steps to create a healthier lifestyle for students, faculty and staff with its new fitness challenge, Walking to Wellness.
According to countyhealthrankings.org, in 2013 Putnam County’s health was ranked 66 out of the 67 counties in Florida.
Now, the Putnam County School District is working to change that.
Sydney Breton, the wellness coordinator at William D. Moseley Elementary School in Palatka, said the school has multiple fitness challenges throughout the year. About 23 of the school’s faculty and staff are participating in Walking to Wellness, the fall fitness challenge.
The challenge is part of the district’s comprehensive wellness program that was intended to educate students, faculty and staff on healthy behaviors and proper nutrition.
Nikki Hawthorne, Putnam County School District Food Services director, said the program has a committee made up of wellness coordinators from district schools that conduct different fitness and nutrition activities for the employees.
Breton said participants in the fitness challenge wear pedometers every day and add their steps up at the end of the week.
At the end of five weeks, the participant who tallies the most steps will win a $75 gift card. A $50 gift card will be given for second place and a $25 gift card will be given for third.
Breton said many of the participants are taking the challenge seriously.
Trenease Taylor, a para-professional at the school, said she has been working hard to win first place. Taylor said she finds herself walking a lot more now, walking before work, during her lunch break and after work at the Ravine Gardens State Park.
Amanda Reid, a kindergarten teacher and intern at Moseley Elementary, is also participating in the pedometer challenge and has been challenging herself to increase her steps each day.
Reid said the first day she wore a pedometer, she was shocked to find she walked about 10,000 steps.
“I think it’s neat, because you’re not aware, especially being a teacher,” Reid said. “I know I walk a lot, but I never realized how many steps I take.”
Reid said she thinks kids should also wear pedometers so they can see how many steps they take in a day.
Hawthorne said there are also wellness programs for students.
The district recently received Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant money for physical education teachers to go through training programs, receive equipment and then implement what they learned in the programs at their schools, Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne said she also makes sure students receive healthy snacks and meals. She said the schools also have a health fair once a year where health screenings are offered to school district employees.