Three Duval County public schools placed in the Step Out in Nature's first annual Kids Walk for Health Competition at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. During the 2011-12 school year, students who entered the competition walked a total of 1.5 million steps at the Arboretum. Awards and recognition were given to more than 150 students in 11 Arlington area elementary schools.
The top school was Parkwood Heights Elementary, followed by Woodland Acres in second-place and Lone Star Elementary in third-place.
Robbie B., fifth-grader at Parkwood Heights, was the top individual winner with 792,526 steps taken. Second-place went to Brooklyn F., fifth-grader at Abess Park Elementary, and third-place went to Talyn C., second-grader at Lone Star Elementary. Prize money was awarded to the top three schools. All students who entered the competition received a certificate of participation.
Step Out in Nature is a program developed by The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, in partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation and the Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. The program addresses the alarming rate of childhood diabetes brought on by obesity. As a fun and fitness competition between Arlington area public elementary schools, the program tackles the problem head-on by making it fun and easy to reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day on the beautiful trails of the Arboretum.
Each of the Arboretum's trails has been measured in the number of steps it takes the average adult or child to complete. Visitors can walk any trail, or combination of trails, and simply add-up the trail totals at the end of their visit to determine how many steps they have taken. They can also register online, enter the trails they walked and have the website calculate the total steps taken. Visitors enjoy the wonders of navigating the 13 ecosystems that make up the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. Along the way, those with smart phones can scan QR codes for points of interest and stop at one of the Arboretum's cyber yoga stations with poses demonstrated by Olympic gold-medalist, Shannon Miller.
Through field trips and family participation, more than 400 children were introduced to nature at the Arboretum during the 2011-12 school year and it is anticipated that many more will participate during the upcoming school year.
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