Thousands of students to take steps to support Walks Day

Fifth-grade students at Brandywine Wallace Elementary School in Downingtown join school principal Dr. Linda Leib and Phys Ed teacher Mark Young to launch Chester County Walks Day.
Fifth-grade students at Brandywine Wallace Elementary School in Downingtown join school principal Dr. Linda Leib and Phys Ed teacher Mark Young to launch Chester County Walks Day. Submitted photo

West Chester >> Throughout this week, thousands of school children across Chester County will be taking steps – literally – to support Chester County Walks Day, set for this coming Saturday. Elementary, middle and high school students representing all areas of Chester County have pledged to walk a minimum of one mile, marking their contribution to the one billion steps that the Chester County Commissioners and Health Department staff members have challenged all residents to take from April to December.

One of the schools, whose 540-plus kindergarten through fifth-grade students will be taking part, is Brandywine Wallace Elementary School in Downingtown. An average of 2,250 steps per mile means that Brandywine Wallace will contribute more than 1.2 million steps to Chester County’s one billion step goal.

Chester County Walks Day is part of the WalkWorks ChesCo! initiative introduced earlier this year. WalkWorks ChesCo! promotes, educates and empowers county residents to adopt a healthier lifestyle one step at a time by creating more places for walking, supporting and promoting walking groups, coordinating walking challenges and – importantly – creating a website that allows everyone to track and tally their steps towards the one billion goal.

One of the key components of the WalkWorks ChesCo! program is a specially designed website that will tally all steps taken by residents who register to participate. The website, found at www.chesco.org/walkworks, takes individual registrations and syncs with most devices and mobile apps that already track steps. It also allows users to convert other physical exercise into steps to be manually added.

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“The beauty of Chester County Walks Day is that anyone can participate, wherever they are,” said Jeanne Casner, Director of the Chester County Health Department. “Rather than create one special event that everyone must register for, we are tapping in to all the walking, running and ‘step-producing’ events that are already happening around the county on Sept. 23 from 5k run and walk events to community days and family-friendly hikes. So instead of registering for a special event, we are asking everyone to register with the WalkWorks ChesCo! step tracker – helping us to tally all steps taken that day, moving us closer to the one billion step goal.”

Details of some of the best step-producing events taking place on Saturday are listed on the WalkWorks ChesCo! website, www.chesco.org/walkworks. In addition to registering to track your steps, the website lists all the benefits of walking and provides details of walking paths and trails within urban areas and in Chester County parks.

“We’d love to hear about more events already taking place in the County that we can promote on our WalkWorks ChesCo! website, and it’s not too late for other schools throughout the county to support the program,” added Casner.

The WalkWorks ChesCo! program is Chester County’s response to the national Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, a two-year competition that empowers U.S. cities and counties to create a positive health impact. The county was selected out of 400 applications as one of 50 members of the national HealthyCommunity50, and received $10,000 in community seed funds to establish WalkWorks ChesCo! If judged the most successful Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge program, Chester County will receive a further $500,000 which would be used to further enhance health programs for all county residents. The Challenge is a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.

More information about the WalkWorks ChesCo! program, how to register, and walking and running events that will contribute to the one billion step total can be found at www.chesco.org/walkworks.