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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

On the Eve of Retirement: One P.E. Teacher Reflects

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Walk to School Day is a tradition at Baucom Elementary in Apex.

Guest blog written by Constance W. Cronk, P.E. Teacher, Baucom Elementary School, Apex, North Carolina

Ms. Cronk was preparing to complete the AHA Brains and Bodies Award Application, and began thinking about her story as she prepares to retire after 20 years of teaching P.E. at Baucom. AHA thanks her for reaching out to AHA to share her story.

What do I consider to be the most successful health initiative ever taken at Baucom Elementary School?

As I prepare to retire, indulge me as I take you on a brief journey through a wellness adventure than spans 20 years.  As physical education teacher at Baucom Elementary, there has been no greater cause than to enhance the total wellness of my school community. In the classroom and, well beyond the classroom, I strive to encourage every child to reach for wellness. Every child, every parent, every staff member, and Apex community leaders need to be part of the process to educate and transform our children’s lives.

We are in the midst of a health crisis, and if we begin in the early years to turn this around, we may impact our young people and change the course of their lives. I have spent 20 years empowering our student and staff to embrace wellness. In fact, our students have a couple of mottoes, and if you ask, they will repeat them for you:

  • “Heart Power is Smart Power.”
  • “I will never smoke.”
  • “I have Heart Power.”

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    P.E. teacher Connie Crunk (with the megaphone) cheers students on during Walk to School Day.

Positive energy carries from the gym to the classroom. Students at Baucom understand that physical activity transforms into success and productivity in the classroom. I would like to highlight a few programs at Baucom that truly transform the bodies and minds of our students, staff and, families.

  • International Walk to School Week: A weeklong celebration of walking and community commitment to greenways and pedestrian safety. A different theme each day including a Walk to School Day Event. Community involvement with the mayor, police chief, fire fighters and school staff and families walking to school together.
  • Baucom Buddies Marathon:  We are in the 8th year of this fantastic program. We have presented it to Wake County Elementary P.E. teachers and have seen the program grow in many schools. We would love to see it become a nationwide program.

Over a couple of months, families complete a 25-mile running/walking log at home. We complete the final 1.2 miles of the marathon at school in a huge event. Community involvement from professional sport teams, team mascots, police and fire fighters make it very exciting. Parents, teachers, and entire classes grades K through 5th take part. Everyone gets a medal at the conclusion of the event. Over 500 students participated last year. That is an amazing achievement from the 70 who participated eight years ago. As a wellness event to fight childhood obesity, the Baucom Buddies Marathon has become one of our most effective and successful programs. 

  • Baucom Buddies Recess Walking Challenge: A daily recess walking incentive program for everyone in the school. Classes are awarded monthly race certificates for completing laps every day at the beginning of recess time. At the end of the year all classes who participated in every months challenge earn “The Golden Sneaker Award.”
  • Red Ribbon Week: Week-long event with daily themes and activities related to living tobacco and drug free. The week includes a poster contest, and an “I Believe in Me, Tobacco Free” parade. Special guests from the community police department attend and speak to our students.
  • AVTV Morning Body Rock: Every morning it is one minute of upbeat, get your heart pounding and your mind working exercises filmed live on AVTV following the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Yoga Classes and Weight Management Classes for staff: We have had weight management classes in the past for our staff and currently a parent volunteer in holding yoga class twice a week at school.
  • Wellness Trail: In 2007, the John Rex Endowment awarded Baucom a $30,000 Wake to Wellness Grant, which made possible the construction of a paved ¼ mile walking trail around the perimeter of our school—the Baucom Wellness Trail. Our Wellness Trail has helped promote our wellness agenda. The message is to get up and get walking (or rolling in a wheelchair) for a lifetime of good health. Walking is a physical activity for all ages. Any child can succeed when walking for fitness, and our wellness trail serves the community and our school.

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    And they’re off! Baucom Buddies Marathon

By far, the most successful aspect of my program is the Baucom Wellness Trail. With the trail, we were able to launch so many programs for students and staff and make recess time more active as a result. Over the years I have observed the transformation of recess. We evolved from students standing around to entire classes walking together with a purpose.  We have seen almost 75% of our student body participate in a take-home Marathon. We have seen almost 100% involvement in the daily walking challenges. Daily walking at recess has become a time for even the least active children to find success. Not all will play team sports but, all of our students can enjoy a walk around a well paved trail.

With the help and support of our administration, along with a total commitment by our Baucom PTA, I know that Baucom will continue its commitment to the brains and bodies of our precious children, staff and families.

Just remember, Heart Power is Smart Power, and every school in Wake County can make a difference to turn around the obesity crisis facing our children.

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