In the Pawling Central School District, the Health and Wellness Committee exists to help all three schools learn the benefits of healthy activity in a variety of fun ways. The committee plans different events aimed to inspire students of all age groups to be active, and to have a good time while doing so.
One event the committee plans is “Walk Before School Day” at Pawling Elementary, held every June. Before the walk, four or five students from Pawling High School go around to classes and bring orange slices to the kids. All the children are then brought into the auditorium, where they stretch and get excited by being cheered on by the older students who have come to Pawling Elementary to assist with the event. The kids are led through stretches by dance teacher Gillian Rinaldo, as well as several high schoolers on her dance team. Then, class by class, the kids are brought outside to make four or five passes through the bus loop and parking lot. Typically, each participant walks around one and a half miles in total. There are colorful balloons lining their path. Approximately fifteen high school students walk with the elementary school kids, cheering them on, and giving them high fives as they pass by.
The high school students are selected by Ms. Rinaldo for being students she thinks could be helpful and capable of getting the younger kids to have a great time. Some of the upperclassmen are in charge of playing upbeat pop music the younger kids know and love. The smaller kids are happy to have a reason to walk and run around outside and be with their friends, as well as to have a chance to see some older siblings who might have come. The older kids like the Walk Before School event because they get out for fresh air and have a chance to relax and teach the value of exercise to younger students, as compared to a normal school day in which there is very less physical activity.
No matter what the age group, all the students who took part in the walk had fun and enjoyed the exercise. Ms. Rinaldo works with staff members at all three Pawling Central Schools, helping out and motivating high schoolers to become involved however she can. She is a favorite among her students, known for her charisma and sense of humor. As a member of the Health and Wellness Committee, she is dedicated to helping kids have fun, learn, and enjoy the benefits of being active.