By – Kelly Goring – George Brown College




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 and diabetes.

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 ( 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.


Chapter 11

Culture of Integrity


Flowing Point




OWIT's Roundtable Breakfast

Physician Assistants

Rebuilding Confidence


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