Dozens of students at Ada Early Childhood Center celebrated a milestone Wednesday by walking their 100th mile.
The project was the brainchild of Katelyn Wade, a Byng High School Meat Science 4-H Club member, who set out to get every student in the Ada area on a path to better health.
“One Sunday I was looking at the morning paper (The Ada News),” Wade said. “The headline read, “Oklahoma is leading the nation in childhood obesity. My heart sunk. I knew right then that this statistic needed to be changed and I was going to be the person to change it.”
Wade said change had to start somewhere, so she made this her 2012 project.
“My idea was to challenge students to walk 100 miles during the school year,” she said. “I sent letters to physical education teachers at eight different Pontotoc County elementary schools that were interested in my project.”
Wade got organized and, with help from a business leader, got organized and more than 700 students interested in the program responded to letters Wade sent to schools.
“My next step was to send letters to the parents asking them to encourage the students,” she said. “The teachers would do the tracking of the miles and keep me posted of their progress.”
On Wednesday, Wade walked with students at Ada Early Childhood Center — first students to finish the 100 miles — for their 100th mile. School faculty, some parents and Ada firefighters joined in as well. Students walked around a courtyard where a ring in the grass was left from several months of walking.
Wade said students from Byng and Latta schools, and the Ada Boys and Girls Club have also participated and are currently working toward their 100 miles. Wade enlisted the help of the 100 Mile Club, a physical fitness and life skills project for all individuals based on the goal of running (or walking) 100 miles at school or work during a single school year.
“The club provides the student with a T-shirt and a gold medal after walking the miles for a $10 membership fee,” Wade said. “My goal was to get enough donations so that each student would receive prizes.”
Wade said in the end, 575 students were walking so she needed to raise $5,750 in donations. She said several businesses in the Ada area, Hoppe Construction, Ram Jack, Citizens Bank, Culligan of Ada and Ross Construction — made donations to sponsor the students. She also saved her tips and held bake sales and dinners as well.