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Students walk those 50 extra miles to be fit as Eastside Middle School

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By Mary Barczak

 MOUNT WASHINGTON--Eastside Middle is taking extra strides to make sure their students stay healthy and fit.

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Last year physical eduction and health teacher Jodi Grant started the 50 Miler Club as a way for students and faculty to jumpstart their days. They can walk laps in the gym 20 minutes before school starts on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

"Nowadays within our society there is so much coming out about many people having diabetes and heart disease," she said. "There's lots of sickness due to poor health, if kids get involved early on (with exercise) then maybe they will continue with it as a lifelong act."

Grant said she came up with the idea from the "Fuel Up to Play 60" iniatiative that was started last year by the National Dairy Council and the NFL encouraging children to eat healthy foods and get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

She said the overall goal is for the children to walk a total of 50 miles during the year. Those who achieve this receive an award at the end of the year. Last year six students completed the challenge and they hope to have even more this year.

After walking, students will log how many laps they walked that day and Grant calculates it for them.

Amanda Jump, an eighth grader at Eastside, sometimes helps Grant out with this process. She has been a member of the club since last year, joining to get exercise.

The Mount Washington resident said she thinks it's important for peers her age to care about staying active, "so they can stay healthy and possibly live longer."

By her involvement with the group, she said she’s also gotten some of her friends to join.

Grant said she thought the walk would be a fun way for students to get their day going but also have time to talk with friends or listen to music.

"It draws in a lot of kids that may not be in other organizations but it makes them feel a part of something," she said.

Grant has also had some staff members come walk with the students and she invites the parents to join in as well.

And she has some big plans for this year. Grant's considering bringing in a fitness instructor to work with the students a couple of days.

She also wants to involve the club more with the community whether it be walking in the Relay for Life or for the Diabetes Society, something that will be for "a good cause but still promote good health too."