June 24, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman
ELKTON, Ky.

children walkingSeveral children and a few adults lined up to get the brightly colored pedometers they would use to gauge their steps around the City-County Park. The children had taken advantage of a hot, nutritious meal and now it was time to exercise.

The children are participating in a summer feeding program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture project coordinated by the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in Todd County. Every year, the Extension Service pairs some kind of incentives for the children with the noontime meal, and this year they are using the pedometers to track the miles of physical activity the children get while at the park.

“We were looking for a way to get the kids to do some physical activity while in the park,” said Jill Harris, Todd County Extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. “In the past, those that lived close to the park would just walk over here, eat and leave. So on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, they can participate in Get Moving Kentucky! What they do is check out a pedometer and see how many steps they can get while they are in the park. Most of them are eating then checking out one and then playing for awhile. They check it back in and we see how many steps they’ve taken.”

Get Moving Kentucky! is a physical activity program of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Health Education through Extension Leadership that encourages all Kentuckians to increase their physical activity. Harris said the kids enjoy using the pedometers and are working toward earning a T-shirt at the end of six weeks.

The Senior Citizens Center prepares the meals, and volunteers trained by the Extension office pick up and serve the meals five days a week from the time school ends until it begins again in the fall. The meals are served at two locations, the park and a housing area. About 35 to 40 lunches a day are served at the park and another 20 at the other site. The lunch program is open to anyone 18 and under who is in school. 

Last year, the Extension Service served 1,600 lunches at the park and another 1,100 at the other site. And in the past four years, they served more than 13,000 meals at the two sites. Other day camps also use the program throughout the summer bringing the total meals served through the summer feeding program to 25,000 since they began five years ago.

The entire county qualifies for the feeding program because more than 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches in school, Harris said.

So far, the children have walked from 8 to 26 miles in a day.

Volunteer Dawn Goodman brings her four boys with her to the park, and the oldest two are regulars with the pedometers. She said she uses one as well.

“I know every year they do something to try to encourage the children to come, and this year this gets them out of the house and gets them to exercise more,” she said. “Kids love to sit in front of the TV. The T-shirt gives them something to work for and look forward to. My two oldest ones really like it, and sometimes I get one of the younger one to do it but he gets tired pretty quick.”

Goodman walks each year in a local 5K walk and this is helping her to prepare.

“Walking with others gives me an incentive; at home it is harder by yourself,” she said. “I do enjoy it here.”


Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Jill Harris, 270-265-5659