A P.E. teacher at Enterprise Elementary in Federal Way, Washington has come up with a very interesting way to get students at the school moving. For 15 years, teacher Tom Wallat has been encouraging his students to participate in exercise to earn a ticket to a Seattle Mariners baseball game.
Wallat said he first introduced the idea while teaching at another elementary school but it didn’t take off the way it did when he came to Enterprise Elementary in 2000. The 25-Mile Club rewards students who complete 25 miles either running, walking or jogging during the month of May. Students are given a punch card to keep track of their progress. Each student receives one punch for each lap completed during recess. Students may also earn extra punches if their parents join them for the laps.
At the end of the month, all students who are successful in completing the 25-Mile challenge receive a t-shirt and a ticket to see the Mariners play baseball. Former Mariners catcher, Dave Valle, donated tickets to this year’s game.
The program rewarded 290 students last year and Wallat is hopeful to have that many complete the challenge this year.
While the program teaches the importance of exercise and being active, Wallat says the key benefit he sees is that it strengthens the relationships between parents and children who complete the challenge together. Parents come each day to walk with their children during lunch breaks or wearing workout clothes from home.
Stacey Traylor, co-organizer of the program has seen first-hand the benefits of involving parents. In one case a kindergarten student who had been missing too many school days began attending regularly once her parents became involved in the program.
Principal Jeff Soltez also feels the timing of the program helps reduce end-of-the-year behavioral problems that often arise as the school year comes to an end. It is a win-win for everyone involved.