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Lee school urges healthy lifestyle

An Atlanta Falcons fan, Jay Henemyre, a fourth-grade student at Twin Oaks Elementary School in Lee County, participates in this year’s National Walk/Run @ Work Day.

An Atlanta Falcons fan, Jay Henemyre, a fourth-grade student at Twin Oaks Elementary School in Lee County, participates in this year’s National Walk/Run @ Work Day.

LEESBURG, Ga. — Twin Oaks Elementary School Principal Jason Miller humbly assesses his skills as a marathoner.

“I’m a back-of-the-pack kind of guy,” Miller said Thursday as he walked with his students around the quarter-mile course set up in the bus parking lot for the school’s participation in National Walk/Run @ Work Day.

But Miller, who has Type I diabetes, has seen firsthand the impact exercise can have on a person’s well-being, and that’s something he wants to share with his students.

“I want our kids to be healthy and fit, and this is a fun way to promote that,” the fifth-year principal said. “We invite our parents to come out and participate, and that helps make it a special day for the kids.

“I also get a chance to walk and talk with the kids informally. It’s turned into a fun day for our students and a great way for us to promote fitness.”

Miller found out about Walk/Run @ Work Day, which was started six years ago by the Road Runners Club of America, on the Internet. He decided to get the school involved. Twin Oaks students, parents and staff completed 700 miles their first year of participation, topped that with 1,700 miles last year and went even further — to 2,164.2 miles — Thursday.

Twin Oaks physical education instructors Ginger Morris and Chuck Cooper incorporate the run/walk fitness element into their classes in an effort to keep their students active.

“We want our kids to start living a healthy lifestyle while they’re young, so we try and introduce them to fitness activities in our classes,” Cooper, who played up-tempo music for Thursday’s runners and walkers, said. “This gives us an opportunity to get the entire school involved.”

Morris said the students were carefully monitored and allowed as many water breaks as they needed.

Wanda White was one of the dozens of parents/relatives who came out to join in the fun. She walked with her grandson, Logan Moore.

“This is a great idea, something the kids need,” she said. “They need to be doing more of this kind of stuff instead of sitting inside watching ‘Spongebob’ on TV, which they’re saying now is bad for kids.”

Fourth-grader Dakota Cox said he enjoyed taking part in Walk/Run @ Work Day.

“We get to be outside doing something fun instead of being in a classroom,” the 10-year-old said. “It makes me want to do more of this.”