World Fit gains momentum among middle schools
Author: Pete Koutoulas • First Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
When middle schoolers return after Spring Break, they will launch into the World Fit Walk – challenged to log at least 45 minutes a day for six weeks.
The program, which targets childhood obesity, encourages students to go outside and exercise on campus or in their neighborhoods. Competition helps drive World Fit as the kids establish personal and schoolwide goals and track their miles online, and the top performers receive certificates and medals.
“I was very excited and had so much fun last year. Hopefully 2012 will be even greater,” said Passion Richardson, World Fit’s Olympic role model for Lexington.
Now an academic adviser in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky, she was a member of the bronze medal-winning 4x100 relay team in the 2000 Sydney Games.
She taped a promotional video to share with the more than 7,000 FCPS students rather than sprint around to every site for the April 9 kickoff. “Every step you take during the World Fit Walk will turn into miles. How cool to know you will walk not one mile but lots and lots of miles during the next six weeks,” she says. “Walking feels good – and it’s good for you.”
Richardson also plans to visit each school sometime before the finale in mid-May.
“I will have an opportunity to go out and walk with the children, giving me time to talk with them on an individual basis,” she said.
Morton Middle School, the big winner last year, intends to promote Richardson’s example and emphasize the admirable characteristics of Olympians, such as perseverance and integrity. Morton also will invite celebrity guest walkers at least once a week to motivate the youngsters.
In addition, the school aims to build on its momentum with multiple indoor walking routes and outdoor paths on the track and through the surrounding residential streets.
“On these pretty days, we’ve already had kids walking,” Principal Ronda Runyon said recently. “The kids are excited, and we’re in it to win it!”
In 2010, Beaumont and Winburn were part of World Fit’s national pilot. Seven Fayette County middle schools participated last spring, and 11 are on board for April’s start. Nationwide, the number of schools has more than doubled in the past year.
Micki King, a gold medalist in springboard diving at the 1972 Games and Lexington’s coordinator for World Fit, is pleased with the progress and the growing enthusiasm.
“When you drive up to a school and see the kids walking and roll down your window and hear laughter, that’s precious,” she said.
King noted how World Fit reaches out into the community, too, as “buddies” donate their walking miles or sports credits. “If a dad plays golf, he can give that to kid A and the next day to kid B,” she explained.
Students also earn mileage points for physical activity and exercise after school and on weekends such as riding a bike, jumping on a trampoline or throwing a Frisbee with the family dog.
The goal is to reinforce the importance of life-long fitness and overall wellness.
“It’s very hard to undo bad habits,” Richardson said. “It’s much easier to build a stronger, healthier kid than to fix a broken adult.”
Micki King, Lexington coordinator, (859) 229-5779