Representatives of the various agencies involved in the Montgomery County implementation of The Daily Mile prepare to cut the ribbon for the walking trail at Star Elementary School. Shown (from left) are Cindy Laton, health educator, FirstHealth Community Health Services; Dr. Jeff James, assistant superintendent for learning, Montgomery County Schools; Teresa Dunn, principal, Star Elementary School; Dr. Kevin Lancaster, deputy superintendent for operations, Montgomery County Schools; and Roxanne Elliott, policy director, FirstHealth Community Health Services. According to Dunn, The Daily Mile has been instrumental in teaching Star Elementary students that everyone can improve their fitness level by simply working in 15 minutes of physical activity each day.
PINEHURST –On Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, Montgomery County, North Carolina’s Star Elementary School officially became the first school in the United States to introduce The Daily Mile, a program that encourages school-aged children to run, jog or walk during each school day.
The Daily Mile is an evidence-based program that was created in 2012 and first implemented in the United Kingdom. It has since spread throughout the UK, Scotland, Belgium and, now, the United States.
The aim of The Daily Mile is to improve the physical, emotional and social health and well-being of children – regardless of age or personal circumstances. It can also help children to focus in the classroom and maintain concentration, therefore improving their potential to learn.
In the program, all of the children in the school spend 15 minutes a day running, jogging or walking outdoors as part of their curriculum.
Funding for the project is made possible through a $450,000 grant from The Duke Endowment that funds the Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas project from January 2016 to December 2018. The FirstHealth of the Carolinas First-In-Health 2020 Task Forces in Montgomery and Richmond counties were the grant recipients, and FirstHealth was one of five health care organizations in North Carolina to receive the funding.
“The Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas initiative funded by The Duke Endowment is focused on decreasing heart disease and diabetes prevalence and mortality,” says Roxanne Elliott, policy director for FirstHealth Community Health Services. “Grantees were charged with implementing evidence-based strategies to improve health outcomes. After hearing a presentation from Dr. Soma Stout, executive external lead for health improvement with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in which she referenced an evidence-based program being implemented in Scotland and the United Kingdom called The Daily Mile, the Montgomery/Richmond Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas coalition decided to implement this program in Montgomery and Richmond counties.”
As part of this initiative, walking trails will be constructed at elementary schools in Montgomery and Richmond counties.
“This program would not be possible without the collaboration of partners,” says Elliott. “It is exciting to see the principals, the students and the teachers embrace it.”
FirstHealth leads the Montgomery and Richmond First-In-Health 2020 Task Forces in partnership with health departments, school systems, cooperative extension offices, Community Care of the Sandhills, school nurses, school-based health centers, municipal governments, housing authorities, businesses and citizens at-large.
“We are very excited to implement The Daily Mile in our elementary schools and are very appreciative of the valuable partnership we have with FirstHealth, which was instrumental in helping establish this program,” says Dr. Dale Ellis, superintendent of Montgomery County Schools. “Montgomery County Schools keeps the focus on the whole child. While we are always in tune with a child's academic needs, it is important to remember that physical well-being is an important component of academic success. By implementing this program, we illustrate our commitment to our students and parents to back up our beliefs.”
Additional assistance for The Daily Mile project will come from The Foundation of FirstHealth events in Montgomery County.
“We invite Montgomery County residents – and beyond – to save the date for the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation Spring 2017 event,” says Beth Walker, president of FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital. “This fundraising event will support building The Daily Mile walking trails at two of the five Montgomery County elementary schools. We are looking for a big crowd to raise the money needed to help our children develop healthy behaviors at an early age by walking The Daily Mile.”
The Foundation’s 2017 event will be held on Cinco de Mayo, May 5, at Denson’s Creek Golf Club in Troy. The event will include live and silent auctions.
All other Montgomery County Elementary Schools – Troy Elementary, Mount Gilead Elementary, Candor Elementary, Greenridge Elementary and Page Street Elementary – are in the process of implementing The Daily Mile. The next trail constructed will be at Troy Elementary School.
Monroe Avenue Elementary School in Hamlet will be the first Daily Mile trail in Richmond County.
For more information on this project or how you can support this community effort, call Roxanne Elliott with FirstHealth Community Health Services at (910) 715-3487. To learn more about The Daily Mile, visit http://thedailymile.co.uk/.