Rolesville Elementary School wins healthy schools award

Mayor Eagles supports RES walking club by participating

By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
May 2015

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The days of neighborhood schools children could easily walk or ride their bikes to are fading into history in the face of newer, larger schools that service more students from a wider area. Rolesville Elementary School, however, keeps its eye on at least the walk-to-school aspect with its Walking Club.

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The club recently earned the school a prestigious award in recognition of the “outstanding and ongoing walk/bike to (or at) school program.” The Wellness Star award was presented by Advocates for Health in Action, an organization that works to improve health in Wake County through healthy eating and physical activity, through policy, systems and environment change. AHA is a collaborative of more than 75 diverse organizations and community members.

RES wins healthy school award

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RES-AHA award from left: Wake County Schools Supt. James Merrill, Rolesville parents Piper Davis and Melanie Connelly, Mayor Frank Eagles, AHA Director Sara Merz, Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson and Board of Education Chair Christine Kushner. ~ Photo by AHA

The Rolesville Elementary School Walking Club started in 2009. That same year, National PTA began focusing on healthy lifestyle initiatives.

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“Our school wanted to offer something families and students can do together,” explained Melanie Connelly, the school’s Healthy Lifestyles chair. “Our walking club has grown from 30 students to 180. We hope to get to 200 by the end of the year.”

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The walking club meets every Friday morning for 30 minutes before school with about 175 students and parents participating regularly. Miles are tracked and posted on a bulletin board in the gym so students can see how far they have walked. Even Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles participates in the walking club as often as he can.

“We start before school at about 8:15, and we meet up at the track behind Rolesville Elementary School,” the mayor said. “There are some moms that keep up with the number of times around the track, and they keep up with how much the kids walk. The kids check in as they go by, and I try to meet them whenever possible.”

How many kids can say they walk with their mayor on a regular basis, after all? The Rolesville Elementary walkers now recognize him as being their mayor.

“I see the kids in town, in Food Lion, or somewhere like that, and they’ll say, “Hey, Mayor!” he said with a chuckle. “It’s good for the kids to get out and walk. I don’t think that right now kids get enough exercise.”

Eagles also applauds the walking club concept.

“They’re encouraging kids to get out and walk,” he said, “and it’s the whole school, it’s not just one class.”

Principal Dana Primiano said, “We are so proud to be the recipient of the AHA Wellness award. Our PTA Healthy Lifestyles committee has worked hard to promote and maintain our walking club for the past several years.  It is something that students, staff and the community enjoy being part of.”