At the end of last week, I got an opportunity to attend an Active Living Work Group Meeting at Upper Explorerland. It was great to hear all of the things this group had done and the plans they intend to make. Some of the items that were discussed included topics like: the Great Give Day, the Bike Rack Challenge, the trail counting project, funding, Food and Fitness Initiative Indicators, Safari and Marathon Programs. I really enjoyed learning about these Safari and Marathon Programs, and became intrigued in hopes of bringing it up to my high school or hometown community. The Marathon one in particular interested me as a runner. It is a family program, where you try to walk 26 miles, or a “marathon” throughout the summer or over a period of time. It is a great and unique way to promote active living. I was introduced to new ideas within Active Living and the meeting reconnected me with my experience with Food and Fitness at Central Community High School.
While at Central, we did a few things with active living. We put on an annual 5K run/walk, we had a walk to school day, and continued to work on various smaller ideas to incorporate in the school and classrooms. We had not really gotten into Safe Routes to School very much or Walking School Busses. However, I do remember having Mark Fenton come to our school. Mark Fenton was a member of the United States national racewalking team from 1986 to 1991, and competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trials in the 50-kilometer (31-mile) racewalk. He is also a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant, and an associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. He studied biomechanics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a researcher at the Olympic Training Center’s Sports Science Laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and manager of Reebok’s Human Performance Laboratory. Mark has had many successes throughout his life in advocating active living and non-motorized transportation. When he came to Central, he helped us with bicycle and pedestrian community plans. He talked to us about launching more safe routes to school and walking school buses. At the time all of this was a very new and interesting idea for our school and community, and it’s quite amazing to see how much it has grown and taken off throughout Northeast Iowa.
This meeting inspired me to think more about active living in our schools and communities, because sometimes I personally can get caught up in only thinking about healthy food options, choices, and opportunities without also thinking about the other aspects within Food and Fitness such as Active Living. I was reminded of past experiences and the growth and successes of the Food and Fitness program. I’m glad I have had the opportunity to be a part of some of these things within the program, and I hope to continue. It is enlightening to see change, and it is so enriching to be even a small part of that change.