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Pedometer Project puts thousands of county students in step

By Miriam King, QMI Agency

Kids learn how to box and take steps at the launch of the Pedometer Project in Bradford on Thursday.

Kids learn how to box and take steps at the launch of the Pedometer Project in Bradford on Thursday.

The logistics are impressive: 21,000 students at 45 public schools in the Simcoe County District School Board will participate in the Pedometer Project, thanks to a partnership between the board and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

The potential is even more impressive.

The kids will keep track of their steps with the 21,000 pedometers provided by Jumpstart and integrate physical activity into their daily learning. In particular, the pedometers will be part of an innovative math program – challenging classes to work on math problems, measurement and calculation as they take steps.

The Pedometer Project was launched at W.H. Day Elementary School in Bradford on Thursday, bringing together representatives of the school board, Jumpstart, local students and special guests.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca brought greetings on behalf of Education Minister Mitzie Hunter.

“It's just so important to ensure you continue to stay active,” he told the students. “To be active, to stay active, to have fun – that's what it's all about.”

The minister stayed for the ceremony and participated in the inaugural activities afterward, joining students in a ball-moving challenge that put the first steps on their new pedometers.

Peter Beacock, chair of the school board, called the Pedometer Project “an amazing thing.”

“I think it's so exciting to see some of the activities you're going to do ... and also some of the challenges. I'm sure there are going to be some unique things that happen out of this project.”

“This is also an important demonstration of the value of partnership,” said Janis Medysky, the board's associate director of education. “Partnerships such as this one can only strengthen the community.”

The concept originated with the school board. Deb Shackell, healthy active living resource teacher for the board, and education superintendent Anita Simpson came up with the concept as a way to link activity and the board's new math strategy.

It was Shackell and Simpson who approached Jumpstart with an idea and a list of potential schools, “and we went to work, finding the right equipment, getting the right vendors,” said Eric Cartlidge, regional manager of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

It took six months to organize, but “this week, all the schools are getting their pedometers,” he said.

Schools across Simcoe County will participate.

“Thank you, Jumpstart Canada. Thank you for saying 'yes,' thank you for helping our students to be more physically active ... thank you for making this little, tiny dream a reality,” said Simpson. “The sky's the limit.”

For the kids, the star of the launch was Olympic boxer Mandy Bujold, who brought the gold medal she won in the flyweight division at the 2011 Pan American games. She shared tips on goal setting and achieving those goals, then helped the students put steps on their pedometers by providing a quick boxing lesson, full of feints and jabs.

“We're very excited and honoured to be the kick-off school for the Pedometer Project,” W.H. Day principal Peter McKenna said, promising his school would be a leader in the step challenge. “We will do more than our fair share.”

The Simcoe County District School Board has set up a website for the project, where students can upload their data and the public can learn more about the initiative. See The hashtag #SCDSBStepUp is being used on Twitter and Facebook.

“Physical activity equips kids with important life skills like discipline, courage and teamwork,” said Landon French, president of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “By providing pedometers to the SCDSB, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities can motivate kids to learn and grow through the power of play.”

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