Mercer Milers Walking Club initiated Sept. 22

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Apollo Elementary Students received new T-shirts for their newest activity, a walking club.

Sept. 22, 2009 marks the start of Apollo Elementary School's new walking club, which will be held once a week on Tuesdays during the noon recess, according to Kyle Lloyd, health educator for the Mercer County Health Department. The program is being sponsored by the health department and Apollo PTO members. "We call it the Mercer Milers." Walking will take place even in the winter, according to Lloyd. "If they can go outside, we will have it," she said. Every week will have changes, such as a theme change or a route change. One upcoming event features walks with the police, as an example.

The interest in the program has been high, with more than 30 PTO members interested in joining with the walkers. "We've had more than 150 kids sign up for this so far," said Lloyd. "It's good to walk," she added, which is one of the messages students will be learning throughout the rest of the school year. As part of the program helpers and students in the Mercer Milers walking club will receive a T-shirt. This program is initially being offered to kindergarten through fourth graders at Apollo Elementary.

This program was initiated thanks to a Safer Walk to School grant the health department applied for through the City of Aledo in 2007. The City eventually received a $6,000 grant, which it handed over to the schools to work on creating a walking program in the Aledo School District. "We're starting with Apollo," said Lloyd.

She said that if it catches on it could be established in New Boston, as well. "We have a coordinated schoolhouse grant through the health department," said Lloyd. That grant is being used to provide nutrition and physical activities in the former Westmer schools.

The lunch program mirrors what they learn in class. "We're trying to get more fresh fruit in the schools (with the coordinated schoolhouse grant)," said Lloyd. "There are not actually many health departments that get this grant," Lloyd added.