The sun is shining and it’s a Friday at Magnolia Elementary School. Students run out to the playground after they finish their lunch and crowd around a check-in area to participate in Fun Walk Friday.
Magnolia has a fitness group called Fit Club, run by teacher Jamie Imura, who started Fun Walk Friday this school year as part of the club, giving the students an organized outlet for their energy and a way to keep them active.
“I wanted to promote staying healthy, pride, and sense of community,” Imura said.
Fun Walk Friday is an activity where the students walk, but in many cases they can’t seem to hold themselves back so they run, as many laps as they can during lunch recess. Every other Friday, weather permitting, students walk – and run – laps around the school’s grass playfield while music plays over a small stereo system. They form in singles, pairs and groups, making a friendly competition to see who can do the most laps.
The primary grade students are especially dedicated to Fun Walk Fridays, and while the older students aren’t as heavily involved, they are more competitive about collecting laps. After four laps, which is approximately one mile, they win a small charm of a walker to add onto a bracelet.
“I love to see kids wear their charms during the week and ask, ‘Is Fit Club this Friday?’” Imura said.
Parent volunteers like Brent Lowe, Patty Maaske, and other parents and teachers help with the walks by corralling and directing the students, and marking tallies on green slips of paper that the students use to count their laps. The extra help is obviously needed, as Imura reported that 340 students participated in the previous Fun Walk Friday.
She added that a group of after school program student helpers record the students’ laps in order to keep track of the top walkers for each grade level. At the end of the school year, the top walkers will receive recognition.
Imura is also the school’s Fit for the Future coordinator, a campaign endorsed by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, and she explained that Fun Walk Friday was inspired by that program. Last year, Imura also started the Games Club and Jump Rope Club at Magnolia.