Lawmakers walk to support schools

Gov. Butch Otter, 12 lawmakers and 45 fourth-graders from Boise’s Monroe Elementary School braced 30 degree weather Wednesday afternoon to walk around the Statehouse to raise awareness about health and fitness.

They are participating in the Steps for Schools Walking Challenge, an annual event that encourages legislators to get out and walk each day.

Those who mark an average of 10,000 steps a day will earn $500 for physical activity equipment or walking programs at the school of their choice. Forty-four legislators are wearing FitBits to track their activity during the month of February.

The challenge was created by High Five, an initiative of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. It encourages lawmakers to learn about the health of students and forces them to evaluate their own health and fitness habits during the legislative session.

“If we ask kids to exercise, then we need to be good role models,” said Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise.

Ward-Engelking has participated in the event since it started four years ago. She wants to help support physical education programs at schools. Ward-Engelking plans to give her money to Liberty Elementary.

“Schools have so many needs that we don’t address on the state level,” Ward-Engelking said. “Any money helps.”

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise

Steps for Schools is educating legislators about the current status of children’s health and existing programs that are working to fight childhood obesity. The program provides details about which cities are offering healthy options for kids in their communities.

“This is a first step to engage our leaders on the importance of healthy habits and, ultimately, supporting efforts to increase children’s health across Idaho,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, the executive director of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

“This is a first step to engage our leaders on the importance of healthy habits and, ultimately, supporting efforts to increase children’s health across Idaho,” said Witt-Doyle.

Lawmakers logged more than 2.5 million steps and raised nearly $15,000 for schools last year.

Winning lawmakers and schools will be announced in March. To track your local legislator, click here.

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