Heather Johnson, Teacher, Bolton C. Falby P.S. 

The pahl program through Special Olympics Ontario has had a profound effect on our students in the Intermediate Associated class at Bolton C. Falby Public School.  They are taking their pedometers out for recess, bowling, shopping, dancing, walking and gym class!  Each and every one of them is participating and excited about what they are accomplishing; whether it be walking, checking their pulse, stretching, sit-ups, push-ups, games, basketball relays etc..  I am amazed at how independent they are in each of their activities and am excited about continuing this with them!!!

Julia Brushey, Teacher, Bolton C. Falby P.S.

I like the program because it shows the students easy, low-energy exercises they can do at home that don't require expensive equipment.  We do a lot of walking, stretching and coordination activities.  The students love recording how many steps they have taken with their pedometers and they are setting personal goals to improve, which they can actually measure each time.  The program is teaching them the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle.       

Lynne Houle, Community Coordinator, Special Olympics Ontario - Sudbury

I started the Step Up Sudbury program to help motivate our athletes on being more active and to become more aware of what they eat.  The program was started at the beginning of February with 4 members. At the present time we have close to 20 participants counting their daily steps.  My objective is to get half of our athletes on this program, which would be approximately 100 athletes.  

It is amazing to see how a number on a pedometer can get them so excited about moving. They all wear their pedometers from the moment they wake up, go to work, to their sports and outings and then verify how much they did in their day before going to bed.  Some parents have told me that they have never seen their child so enthusiastic about getting in shape. KOODOs to all who are attempting it.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings I walk at the community center. This center is open to the public three days a week at no cost.  Wearing their pedometers at their weekly sports is also very encouraged.  Wednesday nights while the Rhythmic Gymnastics groups practice, I meet athletes at the mall for a 45 minute walk. 

Every day that I go for a walk I post where I can be found on the Facebook Step Up Sudbury group. There I also post tidbits on nutrition and on healthy living.  Every couple of weeks we post information on healthy living and being active. At our Bowling nights Friday and Sunday we share recipes and information for all to bring home.

It has been a great month with our pedometers and we are hoping that a majority of our athletes will shed some pounds. My next focus will be to get the Coaches and the Executives involved and register as steppers and start a Big loser group.....a competition between us and the athletes.

Thank you for this wonderful idea......it has been received with open arms by all!

Moira Storey, Special Education Teacher, Communications Program, St. Joan of Arc C.S.S 

Although we have just started (with the program) we are off to a good start.  Our walking (previously not regarded as important) has taken on new meaning.  With a pedometer attached the students seem to have a new focus and realize that the walking they do to and from work, within the school, or out in the community is actually part of a healthy lifestyle.  They have a new appreciation of how walking is an important part of their day!  

Note: Moira’s class is currently using Step Into Action as a means to prepare for a local 5k walk in their community this upcoming spring.

Marilyn Kennedy, PIP teacher and SERT, St. Francis Xavier SS

As a teacher of students with Developmental Disabilities, I am acutely aware of the statistics that place many adults with DD at risk for many health-related diseases (i.e., type 2 diabetes) due to inactivity and poor nutrition.  As we know, developing healthy attitudes and actions as youth paves the way for healthier adult choices.  Consequently, walking has been a part of the Planning for Independence program at St. Francis Xavier SS for the past couple of years.  However, until we started using the Step Into Action program, we did not see the results that we had hoped for (i.e., change of attitude toward walking and better nutritional choices).

I cannot give enough praise to this amazing program!  Our students, who used to complain about walking every day, now enthusiastically pronounce that PAHL is their favourite time of day.  It does not even require a full period, just 30 – 45 minutes per day, depending on how it fits in with your day.  It is a great fit for the ascribed curriculum, which includes Physical Activity & Healthy Living. The pedometers provide them with the necessary visual evidence of their efforts and provide us with data to support their improved physical activity.  One of the side benefits we have observed is an improvement in the behavior of some of our students with behavioural difficulties.

We implemented the program in October, after contacting Jules Sylvestre, the PAHL Specialist with Special Olympics Ontario. The materials that he provided, including record-keeping for the activity as well as the nutritional piece, were exactly what was needed to help motivate our students.  The program is easy to follow, with hard copy goal-setting materials provided for classroom use and a website that allows us to collect data daily by recording the number of steps taken, as well as individual students’ food choices.  After some weeks of recording the food choices, our students began to see the patterns of “missing” food groups in their diet (most fruits and vegetables) and began to make the effort to choose more of those foods.

The benefits of this program can be life-changing for people with Developmental Disabilities because it is transferable to their daily lives, now and in the future.  While, as educators, we can introduce our students to myriad activities (i.e., bowling, swimming, ball sports) during their tenure in the school system, there is no single activity as adaptable and lifelong as walking.  Obviously, the benefits of this program are life-changing and I recommend it to you without reservation.