SHANNON - Not everyone's an athlete, but if you can walk, Pat Carnathan thinks you can win.
"If you move, you're a winner," said Carnathan, the health teacher at Shannon Elementary School.
Back in February, she and the school's Health Council got students, teachers, counselors, custodians and even the cafeteria ladies on their feet for Let's Go Walkin,' a community health program sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi. On Friday, the kids - and grownups - will wind down their friendly competition to see who walks the most.
"The bulk of their walking is at recess," Carnathan said. That's 20 minutes, even if it's a rainy day and kids have to walk circles in the lunchroom.
Pedometers are difficult to keep accurate, so classes are counting minutes rather than steps.
"It's tick-tock, there it is," Carnathan said, adding that teachers are keeping time with stopwatches provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The company also provided posters the school is using to chart the walkers' progress. So far, third-graders are in the lead, with 1,648.28 minutes, and the fourth-grade is in second place with 1,192.16. Fifth-graders have 846.42 minutes, and the sixth-grade is behind with 520.52.
Members of the Beta Club are tallying weekly and monthly totals, sponsor Bobbie Lampkin said, and that's where learning comes into play.
"They have to calculate by hand," Lampkin said, "which also prepares them for the upcoming MCT2."
Teachers also have noticed some changes in the classroom, where some students find it hard to sit all day.
"I like it because it gives the kids a break," third-grade teacher Erin Watson said. "Between our subjects, we get up and take a walk. It's easy to do."
So far, Watson's class is in the lead for the contest, whose winner gets a trip to the HealthWorks! children's museum in Tupelo. She's also ahead of other staff members, who've walked a total of 7,049.01 minutes. That winner will collect a cash prize.
But again, everyone's a winner.
"It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game, just like baseball," said Coley Aldridge, 9.
And besides that, Coley said, "Walking makes you healthy and gives you strong bones."
Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.