- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - Fawn Mountain Elementary School students have crossed two borders so far - they’re currently in Mexico - but they’ve got a ways to go.

The students are in the midst of a challenge to walk around the world, and they have the pedometers to prove it.

“It’s not really high-tech,” said fourth-grader Vivek Jagtiani. “There’s a clicker and when you walk, it shakes. They lose steps quickly, because it’s mainly not that good, so you have to keep track of your steps.”

The “walk around the world” challenge has Fawn Mountain students keeping track of the steps they take each day and reporting the numbers to the school each week, the Ketchikan Daily News (https://bit.ly/1Dd7wvb) reported. The school converts the steps to miles and tracks progress on a large map in the school’s foyer.

The challenge is sponsored by the school’s wellness committee and the school district’s wellness office. Jane Blasingame, a Fawn Mountain kindergarten teacher on the wellness committee, said the idea is to get kids active.

“We just kind of were looking for a way to get kids up and going,” Blasingame said. “We thought, ‘You know, walking is great,’ and there seems to be a lot of motivation behind doing 10,000 steps a day.”

The committee started with the idea of having the kids walk the length of the Iditarod, the 998-mile long sled race from Anchorage to Nome, but they realized that it wouldn’t take 350 kids long to finish that.

“It’s just like, ‘Hey, let’s walk around the world,’ so they’re in Mexico right now,” Blasingame said.

Blasingame said they chose a route around the world that would take the students to every continent, stopping in cities or places they might recognize, such as Madagascar, where a popular family movie of the same name about rogue zoo animals is based.

“It kind of encourages kids to know geography as well as physical fitness,” Blasingame said.

District Wellness Coordinator Emily Henry said this challenge was a trial to test student participation, and that with a 40 percent participation rate at Fawn Mountain, the program will probably expand to other schools next year.

Although Fawn Mountain students have been enthusiastic, there have still been a few challenges, mainly with the pedometers, which Henry called “kind of cheapy.” Henry said a new batch of some 350 pedometers is on its way to replace the original ones. The new pedometers, which were paid for by the district wellness office, will have lanyards to help students keep track of their pedometers.

Second-grader Divisha Jagtiani said she was one of many students who misplaced her pedometer.

“I lost it, but there’s this girl who said that it was on Mona’s desk, so she brought it to lunch, and then Brenna brought it to me, so I didn’t even lose it. I just lost it on the playground and I got it again,” Davisha said.

Because of the slow start and the equipment malfunction, the program, which began Jan. 5, will extend past its 30-day goal, Blasingame said.

“Once our new pedometers come in, we’re just going to keep going and see how long it will take us,” Blasingame said. “So our 30 days is going to be tweaked. Just keep them walking.”

Vivek said the motivation is not lacking.

“We have a couple of days left, we have like two weeks left, so we gotta keep walking,” Vivek said, adding “I wish it was like for the full year of school, then we could go around the earth like five times.”

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com


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