Walking and Running Their Way to a Healthy Lifestyle – The Ponderosa Pacers

IMG_9406Jennifer Stoor, a Physical Education teacher, created a culture of healthy and active living at Ponderosa Elementary School in the West Ada School District. She started a program in 2002 designed to teach kids at an early age that running, walking, and living an active lifestyle feels good. It’s called the Ponderosa Pacers!

Students line up at recess to run and walk around their track – some kids run or walk 1-2 miles during recess. For each completed lap students get a marker which they then take back to the classroom where teachers use them in other daily lessons like math.  This year the Pacers have already gone more than 40,000 miles!

Students that participate in the Pacer program significantly improve their one-mile run time by the end of the school year.  Nearly half of the students qualify as “advanced” in the President’s Fitness Challenge.

Healthy and active living has spread far beyond the outside track at Ponderosa Elementary. Jennifer has helped to improve the lunch room environment as well, adorning it with posters of famous athletes and making healthy food options are easily found.  When the healthy choice is the easy choice and the cool choice, everyone wins!  Students have also taken their healthy lifestyle tips home to parents who are now making healthier food choices for their families and becoming more active as a family.  So, parents are losing weight and reaping the benefits as well!

The Pacer program is about improving the overall well- being of our youth. Students who were once overweight are now losing weight and gaining self-confidence. The kids that don’t have a lot of friends are able to join in on the cool thing to do during recess.  Students are able to set goals of how many miles they want to walk and feel the pride of achieving that victory.

In the end students will find that physical activity isn’t something to be dreaded but something to look forward to.  At an early age they have made healthy life choices that will sustain them as they age.

Ponderosa Elementary is currently raising money to build a new quarter-mile track.  The track they currently have is narrow and not conveniently located on the school grounds.  For more information or to find out how you can help, please contact Jennifer Stoor at 208.283.8337

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1 Comment

  1. Laura

     /  May 29, 2015

    Love this story! Each person can have such a positive impact. This is an example of a positive ripple effect. Thanks for sharing!


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