Kaumuali‘i Elementary School ‘steps it up’

The Department of Health is encouraging adults to “Step It Up” by walking at least 30 minutes a day, according to a press release.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that children get at least one hour of physical activity five days a week.

Taking the message to heart, King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School students are walking during recess and lunch as part of a Department of Health pilot program.

Called “Step It Up at School,” the program at King Kaumuali‘i has recruited 525 students, who track how many times they walk around the school’s quarter-mile track.

Every 10 laps earns the students a shoe-shaped token with the words “Start Living Healthy.” Each successive token is a different color, allowing students to collect them. To earn them all during the five-week program, students need to walk a collective 20 miles, or a mile a day, according to the agency’s prepared statement.

“King Kaumuali‘i School is helping students start healthy habits at a young age,” Director of Health Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in the release. “Walking is a simple and enjoyable activity children can do beyond he program and into their adults years.”

Kaumuali‘i teachers, support staff, administrators and food service workers have joined the students in their walks around the track.

“Step It Up at School has really brought out the best in our students and staff,” Principal Karen Liu said.

“Kids that never took a leadership role before are now the lead in encouraging their classmates to walk. It is such a wonderful feeling to see our students being excited about something that is so good for them.”

In addition, community members are joining the walking movement too. Guest walker Ron Wiley DJ from KONG radio joined Kaumuali‘i students at a special after-school walk at Peter Rayno Park and did a live radio feed.

Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr., who is leading a public education campaign to encourage residents to “Step It Up” and to live healthy lifestyles, applauded efforts by the King Kaumuali‘i School to make students more health conscious.

“In addition to the health benefits of regular exercise, research has shown that kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle the physical and emotional challenges that a typical day presents- be that running to catch a bus, bending down to tie a shoe, or studying for a test,” Aiona said.

This week King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School wrapped up the school year and the successful pilot of “Step It Up @ School.”

The “Step It Up @ School” program is a component of the DOH’s health promotion campaign called Start Living Healthy that encourages Hawai‘i’s residents to be more physically active, eat healthy, and live tobacco free. For more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle, visit www.healthyhawaii.com.

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