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Teacher: Carl Pieroni who teaches at Sutton Elementary School in Muncie, IN. Carl Pieroni can be contacted at cpieroni@muncie.k12.in.us.

Name of Best Practice: Bulldog Walkers/Junior Rangers

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To provide childen with an opportunity to exercise in an after school program that is not an athletic program.

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: Students must be dressed appropriately, comfortable shoes and proper clothing for the weather conditions.

Bulldog Walkers/Junior Rangers

The Bulldog Walkers is an after school Walking Club open to all third, fourth, and fifth graders. It is a partnership with the Delaware Greenways, the overseer of the Cardinal Greenway, a rails-to-trails project in our county.

To participate each child must have a signed parent permission on file, to include any relevant medical information (asthma, bee sting allergy, etc). The Club, which has been active since the Spring of 2003, meets three or four nights per week, depending on the number of adult volunteers, to walk for between thirty minutes and an hour after school. The students check in each day they walk on a posted attendance sheet. One of the adults records the number of minutes walked after each session.

Children are allowed to bring water bottles if they choose. They are also taught about how to dress for different weather conditions (hats, layers, coats, gloves, etc.), the benefits of exercise, i.e. walking, and nutrition. Additonally, they receive training on proper trail etiquette, history of the Greenways project, and how to report problems to the Greenway's office. Once this training is complete the children become "Junior Rangers" for the Delaware Greenways and receive ID cards and badges, a certificate and a JR T-shirt. The children also participate in a trail cleanup in the fall and spring to learn about community involvement.

Members earn a "foot" for every 100 minutes they walk, a gold "foot" for participation in special events (trail cleanup, Depot field trip, JR training), and a Bulldog Walker water bottle after they walk five times. The total minutes walked by each child is posted on the Walkers' buletin board in the gym each week. All items are purchased with monies from grants that I have written for this purpose.

Over the years the club has had an average of 70-75 members with an average of 20-40 walking on any particular night. The club caters to the "non-athletic" child and the heavier child, as well as the regular 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade population.

All activities are on a voluntary basis for the children and adults. The Club has been a very popular program at Sutton.

Variations:

Routes vary from walking the Cardinal Greenway to walking in the neighborhoods surrounding the school. When in the neighborhoods children learn proper safety techniques for walking on sidewalks or the side of streets.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Teacher volunteers are critical to the success of the program. Without volunteers the Club could not function. We need at least three adults per evening for the group to be appropriately supervised. I try to have a pasta dinner at my house each season for the volunteers as a thank you for their help. They also receive the IDs, water bottles, t-shirts, and the feet that the children earn.

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Posted on PEC: 1/16/2006 and has received 79 votes.

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