Walking to build community

Posted October 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Northeast News
October 10, 2012 

With each stride across the trail, Holy Cross Catholic School is building a sense of community.


Fitness for life. Holy Cross Walking Club attendees walk along the trail at Budd Park, socializing and becoming fit at the same time. Leslie Collins

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Holy Cross staff, parents and students gather after school and head over to nearby Budd Park for the school’s new walking club.

“We have this beautiful park just across the street and we’ve been trying to find ways to make use of the park in conjunction with PE4life,” said Holy Cross Principal Jean Ferrara. “We also wanted to create (a sense of) community for the kids and their parents and create a healthy environment in this community.”

Last year, Holy Cross received a $5,000 PE4life grant to promote health and fitness in the school. Founded in 2000, PE4life is a nonprofit organization aimed at creating a “country of active and healthy children and youth by increasing access to quality physical education.”

During the walking club, attendees walk two laps around the trail, totaling about 1.5 miles.

“It’s awesome. We’re reaching out to the community – we’re involving the parents,” Holy Cross School Nurse Yolanda Adams said of the walking club.

Adams joined the walking club three weeks ago and is now a regular.

“It’s another time for kids to be active,” Adams added. “If you can get these kids to start thinking healthy and being healthy, they’ll take that back to their parents and imbed that in them.”

For parent Maria Orihuela, the walking club helps her squeeze in some exercise and build stronger relationships with the teachers.

As Orihuela walks around the trail, she visits with teachers, talking about a variety of topics, including how her children are performing in school. The walking club is further opening the lines of communication between parents and teachers, she said. In addition, the club creates family time, she said.

“Any time to get activities in with your kids is the greatest thing you can do,” Orihuela said.

Holy Cross Physical Education Teacher Rex Nolen said he hopes the youngsters learn that walking for exercise is something they can continue throughout their lives.

Eighth grader Alex Orihuela said he joined the walking club to build up his calf muscles and whip his body into shape for the indoor soccer season.

“I think it’s a good exercise to walk around,” Alex said. “I think it’s a fun thing to do after school.”

As the group walks around the trail, it’s clear the club is promoting more than exercise.

“They (students) get to see us in a different light,” Nolen said.

Students can talk about subjects they might not have a chance to talk about in the classroom setting, Nolen said.

Seeing teachers in that different light is exactly why eighth grader Joey Cantu joined the walking club.

“It’s just cool knowing what the teachers know and talking to them and bonding,” Cantu said.

Ferrara said she wants the walking club to continue to grow and invites the surrounding neighborhood to join the group, also.

“I hope that the community takes advantage and comes out and walks with us,” she said.