1,2,3,4,5...This is the way every student at Sunnyside's Harrison Middle School started their day last week, counting how many steps it took them as they rolled out of bed, made their way to the bathroom to brush their teeth, scuffled to the kitchen for breakfast and ran to catch the school bus.
The students spent all of last week counting their steps as they took part in the Channel One News and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Verb campaign. The program included providing every seventh and eighth grade student at Harrison Middle School, as well as every sixth grade student at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School, with a digiwalker, or pedometer. The pedometers, which students ideally were to keep attached to the waistband of their pants, counts every step a student takes during the course of a day. The goal was for every student to get in 10,000 steps a day.
Patty Griffith, HMS physical education teacher, explained that not only was the campaign a way to make students aware of how much movement they get during the course of a day, it was also a competition against 19 other middle schools across the United States. Griffith said whichever school takes the most steps will receive an "Action Pack" filled with athletic equipment. Griffith said on a local level, the classroom that logs in the most steps will receive $10 gift certificates for every student in the class to use to purchase sporting goods.
Griffith said it was quite a task getting the program started at the middle school, noting that all of the little plastic pedometers were passed out in one day to every student at the school during their P.E. class. She said the school received 1,400 pedometers.
"They were excited when they knew they could keep them," Griffith said of the students' reaction to the small gizmos.
Gail Boose, the other HMS physical education teacher, said some of the students at the school really got into the walking project.
"It's a good tool," Boose said of the pedometers.
Griffith agreed, noting that it's a good way for students to measure their movement for the day. She said it got some of the students to realize that maybe they aren't getting the amount of physical activity they should be. Griffith added that it got those students thinking of ways they can fit more movement into their daily schedule.
"It's kind of an individual assessment for them," Griffith said.
She said over the course of the week most students were able to log in 10,000 steps. Boose added that if it's something that students get in the habit of doing now, it will help them live healthier as they get older.
"It can make a difference," Boose said.
The Verb campaign was brought to HMS through a grant that was submitted by Grantwriter Sue Jetter. Griffith said in December 2004 the school learned that they had been accepted into the program. The grant program paid for the cost of all of the pedometers.