What You'll Learn
Learn about the benefits of regular exercise, and how it can help physical and mental fitness.
What You'll Do
Start a walking club to get students, teachers, administrators and members of the community to make walking part of their day — every day!
Why This Play
Walking and running are great forms of exercise, and they’re easy to do almost anywhere and at any time!
Not only that, but being physically fit is linked to helping you in school,i ii and it’s a fun way to spend time with friends and maybe even make some new ones.iii Research has shown links to physical fitness that can be game-changing for students’ health and learning. iv v vi
This Play was developed in collaboration with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Warm Up Activity Idea!
Not quite ready for the full Play? Try this.
Host a one-day walking event. You can use it as a fundraiser for another Fuel Up to Play 60 activity or as a way to get people excited about joining the walking club.
What to Do
There are three main steps to this Play: identify club meeting times and routes, set goals and grow your club.
Step 1: Work Out Logistics
Find the best times for the club to meet and identify your route(s). Be sure to keep your focus on safety!
- With your team, determine the best schedule for your walking club.
- Work with school officials to figure out when it is best for the walking club to take place—before or after school , between classes, during recess, at breakfast or lunch or during PE.
- Get creative and decide what option(s) will work best for your club members and your school.
- Scout out potential walking routes in and around the school and calculate the distances.
- Plan to use cones or other markers so the path is easily identifiable.
- Have a back-up plan for what to do on bad weather days and make at least one route inside the school.
- Look for special locations away from school that your club members can visit on weekends with their families to get in some more miles!
Step 2: Set Goals
Set goals for your club.
- Mark off some distance markers on your selected route(s)to help motivate students to go a little farther every day or week.
- Calculate distances to places club members want to visit and note them on a wall chart of club members’ names when they’ve walked those distances. Complement the chart with a wall map and put flags or pins on the places students have walked far enough to get to.
- Alternatively, if practical, have students track their walking to see if, over time, they can walk the distance from your school to your local NFL team’s home stadium in time for a home game!
- Set up monthly or quarterly goals and contests that include cool prizes for students who "go the distance"!
- ⚠️ Note: Safety first. Create a flyer that shows walkers the right way to stretch and warm up, and gives tips for walking safely (using crossings, staying on the path, etc.). Be sure also to pay attention to healthy practices and stay hydrated during walking club activities.
Step 3: Grow your club
- Think about ways to get and keep people interested in your walking club. Throw a walking club kickoff eventto get people excited.
- Hold weekly or monthly "extras" like encouraging walkers to carry hand weights, breaking up the walk with lunges or sprints, or creating stop-and-go exercise stations to add other fitness activities into the regular walk.
- Consider hosting a community walk for charity — many cities and towns have events like these!
- Work with your school nutrition professionals and the principal to time your club so that if it is a morning club, it meets before or after your school's breakfast programs. Or, work with your school nutrition team to organize a grab-and-go breakfast option. Students need physical activity AND a nutritious breakfast!
- Hold regular celebrations to highlight students who meet their goalsto keep them motivated.
- If some students have trouble, encourage them to reestablish goals that are more realistic and then gradually increase distance goals as they become more fit.
- Establish an ongoing system of communication with parents of your walkers to let them know how things are going.
Who can help?
You are not in this alone. There are many people who can help make this Play a success. Here’s a list of people who can help and some specific ways they can do that.
School Nutrition Staff
- Help to organize grab-and-go breakfasts for students who walk before school
- Talk with students about nutrition and hydration needed for physical activity
- Approve your plan and help identify safe walking routes
- Engage with school nutrition staff, teachers and custodians to get their support
- Encourage student participation
- Participate in and supervise the walking club on various days before or after school
- Participate in the club and work on ways to promote it
- Encourage peers to participate
- Participate in the club
- Help with supervision before or after school
- Donate prizes and incentives to motivate more students to join
- As with any game that’s worth playing and winning, you are bound to run into challenges. That's why getting help from others is so important. You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals when everyone works together.
Host an enthusiastic and energy-filled introductory kickoff event to launch your walking club. The support and encouragement students receive at the club kickoff will motivate them throughout the season.
Make posters or flyers telling people about the club, too. The more people who know about your club, the better!
Recruit your club members and get them motivated. Use PE classes and lunch periods to sign kids up and set their own goals. Send home a parent letter that explains the club and its benefits. Invite parents to join and/or commit to support their children to be physically active, eat healthier and limit screen time and sedentary activities.
This section features ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about ideas for differentiating between older and younger students and ways to bring in the family connection.
Build student leadership opportunities. As much as possible, have students do the planning and run your programs.
Put students in the driver’s seat as much as possible. They’ll learn valuable life lessons on how to plan and implement programs, and they’ll feel great about helping their school!
- Have students organize a one-day walk-a-thon to benefit a local organization like a food pantry or an organization helping the homeless. Get students excited about helping others and highlight the ways walking regularly will help them as well!
- Look into the possibility of students earning service learning hours.
- Have students make a point to spend time walking with students they may not know. They can find out what others are interested in and which friends of theirs might want to join the club but haven’t yet. Encourage all members to invite their friends to join and facilitate introductions between members as more people join the club. Work toward making the walking club as inclusive as possible.
- Conduct a long-walk goal-setting survey, inviting students to come up with the most creative and achievable distance goal for the school community to walk in a combined effort.
- Mark off walking routes in and around the school.
- Create awareness materials such as posters and announcements.
- Encourage friends and classmates to join the club.
- Provide parents with information about the club.
- Ask local businesses to donate resources.
- Work with local sports stores or athletic organizations and have a representative come speak to your club.
Build Local Community
- Work with your school’s parent-teacher organization to organize walking school buses to help kids get to school on their own power, but in a safe and fun way. Many parents leave for work before their children leave for school. Offer parents an opportunity to engage more with kids and get in some physical activity of their own by taking turns being on the “walking” bus. That way, kids have a safe “ride” to school every day and all parents get to be a part of it from time to time.