Washington, DC Students Discover the Benefits of Getting Fit and Being Healthy
KIPP DC Quest Academy is in inner-city Washington, DC. The students are no strangers to walking to school with roughly 92 percent of them making the trip to school by foot. Even with such a high number of students walking to school, many of the students simply aren’t exposed to getting fit, being healthy, or the value of just moving.
Luckily for KIPP DC Quest Academy, sports movement and physical activity champion, Damon Kinloch, had participated in a Fire Up Your Feet challenge at the KIPP DC Heights Academy location where he worked previously. Kinloch said, “I saw the enjoyment the kids had when participating and wanted to bring that same energy here to KIPP DC Quest Academy.” He went on to share, “I am big on fitness and health. There are too many kids that are not physically active and committed to 60 minutes of movement. With this challenge, I was able to express to the teachers the importance of being fit. So during recess times, I asked the teachers to track the laps and gave them how many laps equate to a mile.” Not only did the teachers track the student’s laps, they also started participating which resulted in the kids focusing even more.
Even with so many students walking to school already, Kinloch doesn’t believe most schools in the DC area are familiar with Safe Routes to School. Since the greatest challenge in his mind is a lack of awareness in the community, he would like to see more literature and meetings to discuss this initiative as it would go a long way in helping parents understand the importance of Safe Routes to School.
One of the classes at the school was particularly resistant to the challenge. This class of mostly girls said they just didn’t want to run or walk. Despite the adverse attitudes of her classmates, one obese student in the classroom wound up embracing the challenge. Her mom came to school to let them know that she had to go shopping to buy new clothes for her daughter because she was losing weight from all the walking she was doing. Not only was she walking at school, she also got her mother walking with her too. It was such an eye opener for this family. Now she is excited to walk and comes to school hoping that they will walk or do another fun physical activity.
A huge part of KIPP DC Quest students connecting with the Fire Up Your Feet challenge is the nature of their school community. It is incredibly involved, especially with any plan that engages the kids in an activity of this nature. The incentive of an award didn’t hurt either, and KIPP DC Quest was one of the winners of a drawing for a $500 award for logging Walk to School Day activity on the Fire Up Your Feet website. This award money will allow them to upgrade sporting equipment at the school like balls and soccer goals.
The Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge was a fantastic way to get this DC community involved with physical activity, and has really helped bring awareness to KIPP DC as a whole. The school is excited at the potential to keep moving in future challenges and hopefully all year long.