Elon partners with local school to introduce '100 Mile Club'

Liz Bailey in the Department of Health and Human Performance, joined by two students studying to be physical education teachers, have teamed this year with a Burlington elementary school as part of a national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Many children have little grasp of how far 100 miles represents. For those who attend R. Homer Andrews Elementary School in eastern Burlington, N.C., it would be the equivleant of walking west from their classrooms to downtown Greensboro and back along U.S. 70.

And then doing it again.

One hundred miles is the goal of a program that kicked off last week when a longtime Andrews Elementary School physical education teacher, joined by an Elon faculty member and two students, rallied third, fourth and fifth graders to join the “100 Mile Club” during an afternoon program in the school gymnasium.

The club itself will be implemented during recess, gym class and after school, and it takes the form of tallying miles walking around a small outdoor track over the school year. The hope is that the program will generate not only an interest in physical activity, but an understanding of its importance to lifelong health, regardless of whether an individual students logs 100 miles.

“A lot of the issues we have are poor health habits in general and not necessarily just lack of exercise,” said Todd Traumuller, the elementary school’s physical education teacher. “This program is not about how many miles you can walk to beat your friends. It’s about what you can do to better yourself.”

Ninety percent of the student body at Andrews Elementary School is on free and reduced lunch, and recent meassurements at the school indicated that at least in fourth grade, 46 percent of students were above the 85th percentile for height and weight. That made Andrews an ideal applicant for a $1,000 grant from the Active Schools Accerlation Project, a program run through ChildObesity180 at Tufts University.

ChildObesity180 is one of 10 organizations that collaborated last winter with First Lady Michelle Obama to create Let’s Move! Active Schools to make it easier for schools to build activity into the day.

Liz Bailey, an instructor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, helped in securing the grant for Andrews Elementary School. “In Burlington, sometimes taking part in programming is hard with recreational sports and dance programs and such,” Bailey said. “They’re cost prohibitive.”

Bailey was joined at the kick-off by Elon University senior Olivia Mackey and junior Kimberly Schneider, both of whom are studying to be physical education teachers. Mackey and Schneider will travel to Andews each week to assist children attempting to walk 100 miles on the track.

Their hope is to make the laps fun by incorporating other physical activites such as dancing. Students will also receive incentives for every 25 miles they walk throughout the academic year.

“We’re going to celebrate your successes,” Traumuller told the children, “and your efforts!”