What is the Step-by-Step Program and why do we need it?
“Step by Step©” is a walking program (with
a nutritional component) created by Donna Messer that targets
our children - third and fourth-graders in public, private and
charter schools. Each student receives a pedometer, the cost
of which has been generously underwritten by donations from
local industries. These third-and fourth-grade students will
wear the pedometers on their belt for five weeks.
In almost every newspaper today, gruesome statistics and facts
are making front-page news on the pandemic of childhood obesity.
There is evidence to suggest that the generation of children
we’re raising in Canada today may be the first generation
in our history not to outlive their parents. Statistics show
that if you’re an obese child today, you have an 80 percent
chance of being an obese adult tomorrow. According to these
same statistics, 300,000 North Americans die each year from
complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer
There are two identifiable culprits that have made our beautiful
children and grandchildren the least healthy and most overweight
kids in our nation’s history: the standard North American
diet and the lack of physical activity. Our kids eat too much
fat food (i.e. fast food) and drink too much sugar water (i.e.
soda pop, juice boxes, etc.), and do not get enough exercise,
choosing television or an activity on the computer over playing
outside or participating in organized sports.
It is very easy to understand why this program is necessary
when reading statistics such as these:
• Nearly two out of three North Americans are overweight
or obese — a 50 percent increase from just a decade ago.
• Obesity leads to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes,
and a diminished quality of life.
• The economic cost of obesity in North America is more
than $100 billion annually.
It is a proven, established medical fact, that exercise as
simple as walking, coupled with an improved diet, can have a
dramatic improvement on the health of our children.
How does Step-by-Step Work?
When participants sign up for the program, they will each be
given a starter kit. Please see Appendix A for the starter kit
information sheet. In addition to the pedometers and the log
sheets, the other elements of the kit will help to improve other
areas of their health by offering fun and exciting recipes and
games to help them learn about eating healthy and taking care
of their bodies. One extra that will be included in the kit
is a map of the world that provides the distance in steps from
Canada to other countries. Participants can put the map up on
the wall in their room and check to see if they could have walked
to Mexico with all the steps they have taken. This element will
provide tangibility to the participants as well as be a tool
to use when setting goals; for example, the goal could be to
walk enough steps to make it to France!
The pedometers record the numbers of steps taken by each student
throughout the day. Parents record the number of steps in a
logbook every night. At the end of each week, participants can
enter their weekly totals onto the Step by Step website (www.stepbystep.org)
and the information will be sent to a central auditing office.
At any given time during the program, we will be able to tell
which of the school children have walked the most steps. We
can actually pinpoint which school within the study has walked
the most steps, which class in the study has walked the most
steps, and, in fact, we will be able to tell who are the top
five students in any class who have logged the most steps.
The program culminates with a “Family Fitness Day Celebration”
where the top five walkers in each class, along with the top
performing classes in each school district, will be awarded
prizes for their achievement. (All students who walked and counted
their steps will receive a certificate of participation that
can be proudly displayed). Those children who wish to continue
recording their steps beyond the 30-day contest can do so throughout
the year by using the same log book.
At the conclusion of 12 months, all completed logbooks will
be forwarded to the auditing office, and winners will be selected
at random. Prizes like trail bikes, family passes for the zoo
and community activities will be drawn at random for those kids
who stayed in the program for a year, with more significant
prizes awarded to those who logged the most steps. The success
of “Step by Step” will ultimately depend on a 100
percent commitment from school principals, third-and fourth-grade
teachers, students and parents.