You are on page 1of 2

Walk for Summer Reading

Objective: To encourage physical activity and improve reading skills in at-risk elementary school children.

Program Summary: The Walk for Summer Reading program tackles two rising problems seen in at-risk
elementary school children in Michigan and throughout the nation: decreasing reading skills and increasing
obesity. The Walk for Summer Reading program seeks to improve literacy while promoting physical
activity. Students must participate in school-wide walking activities for at least two months to earn books
they may take home, keep, and read during their summer holidays to avoid “summer reading loss. The
students will “walk to earn books” for summer reading that is crucial to improving their literacy skills. The
Walk for Summer Reading program is sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership
with the YMCA.

This program has been an outstanding success since its inception in 2009 with over 30,000 children in St.
Clair County elementary schools “walking to earn books” for summer reading. To date, this project has
helped the students “earn” over 38,000 books for summer reading and create a culture of healthy
lifestyles! The principal, staff and families at the elementary schools have initiated walkathons as
fundraisers, yearlong walking clubs and running clubs creating a culture of healthy lifestyles!!

Background: Childhood obesity is a nationwide epidemic, but in our community, the statistics are even
more alarming: one-third of children at a recent kindergarten round–up were at high risk for becoming
obese; 40% of middle school students have a family history of diabetes. These trends coupled with lack of
physical activity would obviously lead to an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children in our area.

In addition a wide reading achievement gap separates advantaged and disadvantaged students in our
county. This gap is often credited to “summer reading loss;” students who lack reading materials at home
experience 15 fewer months of reading experience by 5th grade than those where books are plenty.

Pilot Project: Looking for a solution to these two problems, the Walk for Summer Reading program was
born. A pilot project was initiated in February 2009 at Cleveland Elementary school in Port Huron, where
more than 90 % of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. For 14 weeks, the 211 students walked for
15 minutes in the morning before school began .The Principal and teachers noticed that during these 14
weeks, fewer fights erupted , students were on time to school and more attentive in class. After Cleveland
students had completed their “walking,” they received 1300 books, 4-9 books per child depending on
grade level. Funding for these books was provided by physicians of St. Clair County Medical Society.

2010 Program: The following year, the program was expanded to Algonac, Cleveland, Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson elementary schools with 1628 children walking to earn books for summer reading. The
atmosphere in the schools became more conducive to positive interactions between the teachers, staff
and students. Often, the students were joined by teachers, staff and parents who asked to join! After
completing at least an eight week walking requirement to earn books, some schools continued walking or
even started running programs for older students. At Algonac Elementary, “walking” prompted the school
to launch a “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies” parent night that was attended by 300 people. This event
incorporated both fitness and reading activities!

2011 Program: 16 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all
schools at different funding levels. A total of 5864 students participated in the program. A running club
was started in four elementary schools!
2012 Program: 20 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all
schools at different funding levels. Over 5000 students participated in the program. Families walked with
the students in 13 schools. In addition, 9 schools had walkathons as fundraisers, 7 schools had yearlong
walking clubs and 10 schools had running clubs!

2013 Program: 23 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all
schools at different funding levels. Over 5500 students participated in the program. Families walked with
the students in 14 schools. In addition, 10 schools had walkathons as fundraisers, 10 schools had yearlong
walking clubs and 8 schools had running clubs!

2014 Program: The program was sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership with the
YMCA. 23 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all schools
at different funding levels.

2015 Program: The program was sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership with the
YMCA. 24 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all schools
at different funding levels.

2016 Program: The program was sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership with the
YMCA. 24 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all schools
at different funding levels

2017 Program: The program was sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership with the
YMCA. 21 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all schools
at different funding levels

2018 Program: The program was sponsored by the St Clair County Medical Society in partnership with the
YMCA. 21 elementary schools in St Clair County applied for the grant. Grants were awarded to all schools
at different funding levels

Grant Support: Each participating school received a grant of up to $2000 from the St Clair County Medical
Society Foundation. To date, a total of $185,550 has been awarded to the elementary schools.