Joanna Reyna's first-grade class gets ready for its daily run.
Richey Elementary students have walked from Pasadena to Lubbock these past three months. That's one way to look at the impact of funds from the Carol White Grant, an award to promote a healthier lifestyle for Richey students, faculty and the entire community.
Students at the school, from pre-kindergarten through the fourth grade, have walked over 550 miles since the stay-fit program was implemented.
"As a hub of the community, we serve not only as educators, but as role models to our students and parents," Richey Principal Viki Sparks said. "We take this role very seriously."
Other Richey initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles include a Health Fair and a "Biggest Loser Contest," in which teachers signed up to lose weight. Staff members now have the opportunity to work with trainers after school. The program even includes a partnership with ABC Dental for free screenings.
During the "Biggest Loser Contest," the Richey staff lost a collective 142 pounds. The winner, Socorro Martinez, won a cash prize of $382.
"The contest and daily e-mails made me focus more on what I was eating and making healthier choices," Martinez said.
At the end of this semester, the class from each grade level with the most miles walked will be treated to a party.
"I like it when we run outside," kindergarten student Alejandro Vargas said. "My mom says that when you sweat, it is good for you."
Students from all grade levels have enjoyed the walking and running.
"Instead of playing outside, my students get excited about getting fit," fourth-grade teacher Kara Rihn said. "We discuss keeping your heart rate up and walking at a fast pace. I even encourage the ones who can run the entire time to do so."
"We've always known that students need physical activity to perform well in academics," Sparks said. "Now we are acting on the research."