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West Chicago D-33 schools focus on wellness with annual walk, run

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 11:20 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:54 p.m. CST
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(Mary Beth Versaci - mversaci@shawmedia.com)
West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda (from left), Marketing and Communications Coordinator Rosemary Mackey and Alderman Sandy Dimas join Wegner Elementary School first-graders Holly Smith and Pedro Nicoski during District 33's annual Wellness Walk, which was held April 25 at each of the district schools.
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(Photo provided)
Currier Elementary School fourth-graders Giovanni Hernandez (from left), Andres Reyes and Eric Carrasco-Rios get active during District 33's annual Wellness Walk, which was held April 25 at each of the schools.
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(Photo provided)
United Way representative Mark Walgamuth (back, from left), Currier Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Becky Hall, PE teacher Denise Kazar and fourth-graders Faith Rosado (front, from left), Karina Lemus, Eileen Lavariega and Caitlin Aranda participate in District 33's annual Wellness Walk, which was held April 25 at each of the schools.

WEST CHICAGO – While being active can involve running marathons or taking multiple fitness classes at a local gym, sometimes it’s much simpler than that. Sometimes it just means getting up and getting moving.

West Chicago Elementary School District 33 shared that message with students through its sixth annual Wellness Walk, allowing students to see how easy it is to add a little extra activity to their day.

Wellness Walks were held throughout the day during physical education classes April 25 at each of the district schools, and students were joined by staff members and others from the outside community, including West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda, who walked at five schools.

“I just think it’s a wonderful idea,” Pineda said. “This is our sixth year doing this, just to get the kids out, to realize that walking’s an exercise too, and it’s very easy to do.”

The Wellness Walk began in 2009 as the brainchild of Phyllis Hart, Pioneer Elementary School PE teacher. She had thought for years about doing a walk, and it finally was picked up and organized by the district’s Wellness Committee in partnership with WeGo Together for Kids, a program that provides services to district families and links them to resources from area community partners.

The Wellness Committee seeks to increase students’ intake of fruits and vegetables and their physical activity, so the walk fits with its goals, said Director of Partnerships for Wellness, Safety and Achievement Marjory Lewe-Brady, who facilitates the committee.

“Everyone can walk,” Lewe-Brady said. “It’s free. It’s easy.”

Students in District 33 find other ways to be healthy as well.

Pioneer Elementary School fourth-graders Hector Coroneo, Tristan Alfaro, Kaylee Basilio and Brisa Valdez said they try to eat a balanced, healthy diet, drink water and exercise.

In school, they learn about the importance of being active. Hector said his class read a story about a woman who didn’t exercise and became sick.

The students enjoy the Wellness Walk because in addition to having health benefits for them, it’s also fun.

“We walk around, go to some streets and we can sometimes chitchat, but quietly,” Kaylee said.

Besides the Wellness Walk, some of the schools also have running clubs for students.

The clubs stemmed from the district’s annual We Go Run, which will be held for the 10th time Sunday.

Board of Education member Julie Pearson was part of the founding of the run when she was on the Parent-Teacher Organization Council. The first running club then began at Currier Elementary School, where Pearson’s son attended school, as a six-week program for students to prepare for the We Go Run.

Proceeds from this year’s run will go back into the community, although it’s undecided what fitness-focused project the funds will support.

“This community has really been embracing fitness, really watching it grow,” Pearson said.

By having the Wellness Walk and We Go Run near the end of the school year, District 33 hopes to see families continue to be active during the summer.

“I’m walking, so it makes me more healthy. My family gets moving,” Lewe-Brady said. “So the whole community together is working together to be healthy.”

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If you go

What: We Go Run

When: Registration at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, run at 8 a.m.

Where: Community High School, 326 Joliet St., West Chicago

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