Alexis Andrianopoulos, BSD – 302-793-5068
Beth Shockley, DNREC – 302-739-9902
Mount Pleasant Elementary students celebrate their successful walks in Delaware state parks
WILMINGTON (Nov. 20, 2013) – To encourage students to spend time outside, participate in healthy activities, and learn more about the state they live in, the Mount Pleasant Elementary School PTA has instituted “Walking Wednesdays,” a walking program during recess every Wednesday, during the 2012-2013 school year. While students walk on a quarter mile path, parent volunteers tally their laps to track the students’ progress and correlate it to various points across Delaware. So far this fall, classes of students, working together to build a sense of community and teamwork, have already walked the distance to nine of Delaware’s 16 state parks as part of the State Parks Walking Challenge – 144.7 miles total.
As a reward for their successful completion of the challenge, students were treated to VIP visitors bearing gifts today during all five recess periods: Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O’Mara, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens, Brandywine School District Superintendent Mark Holodick, and animals and handlers from the Brandywine Zoo’s travelling zoo. Each student that has completed the State Parks Walking Challenge received a ticket for free admission to the Brandywine Zoo and a day pass to any Delaware state park.
“I’m delighted to celebrate the successes of the children involved in this outstanding program,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “It fits hand in glove with the Governor’s Children in Nature Initiative, where we encourage children to get outside and get active. Thanks to Mount Pleasant Elementary School and the school’s P.T.A. for using its resources to improve and enhance the outdoor environment for the students. Children are walking, counting their own laps, figuring out how many miles they have walked and so much more. It’s partnerships like these that are making the Children in Nature Initiative a resounding success throughout the state – by developing creative and fun ways to get kids outside.”
In addition to building a healthy love of the outdoors, “Walking Wednesdays” is designed to support the curriculum and provide real-life lessons for students. “Even though parent volunteers are there to assist, students have started to count their own laps, determine how many miles they have walked, and used map reading skills to locate the state parks and measure the distance they need to walk to reach their next destination,” said event creator Michelle Langrehr, president of the school’s PTA. The quarter mile walking path around the school playground and fields was installed with funds raised by the PTA, and last year more than 50 trees were planted around the fields. With help from a grant from Lowes last year, the PTA created an outdoor classroom for the school and constructed a story walk with laminated pages of age-appropriate books inserted into signs for children to read as they walk from sign to sign.
“Classroom learning is of course vital to students’ success, but so are supplemental opportunities like the ones presented by an activity such as Walking Wednesdays,” said Mount Pleasant Elementary School principal Angela Williams. “While they partake in physical activity, students are able to incorporate what they are learning in the classroom, including Common Core content math skills, literacy, healthy lifestyles, and geography. We are thankful to the PTA for their incredible support and creativity.”
During the State Parks Walking Challenge, Mount Pleasant Elementary students walked the distance to the following Delaware State Park locations: Bellevue, Brandywine Creek, Rockford Tower, Fox Point, the Brandywine Zoo, White Clay Creek, Lums Pond, Fort duPont, and Cape Henlopen.