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School Walking Challenge Motivated Kids and Community Leaders

By Amy Stahl, News and Community
December 4, 2015

In just one month, 26,745 students from 61 schools in southwestern Idaho walked nearly 178,000 miles. Setting an example for these active students were Idaho mayors from 25 communities who logged 9,682 miles in October.

The month-long “Walktober” event was sponsored by St. Luke’s, the High Five Children’s Health Collaborative and the Idaho Dairy Council.

When Twin Falls Mayor Don Hall signed up for the Mayor’s School Walking Challenge this fall, he pledged to increase the number of steps he took every day.  At the end of the one-month walking challenge in October, Hall had logged more than 30,000 steps – or 14 miles -- per day.

“I got up early in the morning and I walked to work,” he said. “When I was teaching (at the College of Southern Idaho), I paced back and forth. Whenever I had meetings I had people get up and walk around with them. I scheduled meetings so that I could walk to them.”

He especially enjoyed walking with children at Twin Falls schools. “It was so much fun to go to the schools. They invited me to walk around the track. It was fun to watch the different age groups,” he says.

On Nov. 30, Hall and the kids at Immanuel Lutheran School celebrated their achievements at an assembly.

As one of eight grand prize winners, Immanuel Luther received $2,000 for physical activity and nutrition equipment. Hall’s prize of $1,000 was donated to Cascade Park, formerly known as Candy Cane Park in Twin Falls. Parks & Recreation Director Wendy Davis hopes to use the funds to upgrade the park playground.

Winning schools were selected based on the highest average miles per student within their designated competition groups.

Other winning schools were:


  • Summit Elementary, Jerome
  • Dietrich Elementary School, Dietrich
  • Homedale Elementary School, Homedale
  • St. Mary’s Catholic School, Boise
  • Heritage Community Charter School, Caldwell
  • Lake Hazel Elementary School, Meridian
  • Endeavor Elementary School, Nampa

Schools were grouped in geographically similar areas with comparable enrollment. The prizes are earmarked for physical activity or food service equipment. A complete list of schools, groups and their mileage is available.

The Mayor’s School Walking Challenge is designed to improve children’s health by inspiring them to walk or run at school. Mayors act as role models for students and encourage participation throughout the city. Mayors were enticed with $5,000 for physical activity equipment at a school or park.

Emmett Mayor Gordon Petrie won the mayor’s challenge with a total of 534 miles during the month of October. Petrie averaged 17 miles each day during the challenge. He not only dedicated time to walk before and after work, but also involved his staff by scheduling walking meetings. They also worked activity into their daily routines.

Twelve mayors who walked an average of more than 10,000 steps per day received $1,000 to spend toward school or park improvements.


  • Mayor David Davis, Jerome
  • Mayor Don Hall, Twin Falls
  • Mayor Bob Henry, Nampa
  • Mayor Dave Wendell, Shoshone
  • Mayor Gheen Christoffersen, Homedale
  • Mayor Jackie Aymon, McCall
  • Mayor Nina Jonas, Ketchum
  • Mayor Randall Paterson, Carey
  • Mayor Randy Jones, Paul
  • Mayor Scott Marolf, Fairfield
  • Mayor Stacy Pascoe, Shelley
  • Mayor Tammy de Weerd, Meridian

At 24 schools, students averaged five miles or more during the month of October. Each will receive $500 to promote childhood wellness.


  • Acequia Elementary, Rupert
  • Carey Elementary, Carey
  • Central Elementary School, Nampa
  • Crimson Point Elementary, Kuna
  • Discovery Elementary, Meridian
  • Fruitland Elementary School, Fruitland
  • Grace Jordan Elementary, Boise
  • Green Hurst Elementary, Nampa
  • Iowa Elementary School, Nampa
  • Lewis & Clark Elementary, Caldwell
  • Lincoln Elementary School, Twin Falls
  • Meadow Valley Elementary, New Meadows
  • Middleton Heights Elementary, Middleton
  • Monroe Elementary, Boise
  • Nampa Christian Elementary, Nampa
  • New Horizons Dual Language Elementary, Nampa
  • New Plymouth Elementary, New Plymouth
  • Ponderosa Elementary, Meridian
  • Roosevelt Elementary, Boise
  • Sacajawea Elementary School, Caldwell
  • Siena Elementary School, Meridian
  • Snake River Elementary, Nampa
  • Star Elementary, Star
  • Whittier Elementary, Boise

“Kids were excited to walk at school with their mayors, who were inspired to get moving too. Hopefully a month full of fun opportunities will lead to a lifetime of healthy choices,” said Kristin Armstrong, St. Luke’s Health Ambassador.

 “Competition among both schools and mayors was fierce this year,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health manager. “But beyond a month of competition, we’re seeing lasting, healthy changes incorporated into schools and city offices. The competition was a gateway into routine fitness. ”

 “The sponsors were impressed and inspired by the enthusiasm from the schools and mayors who participated Mayors School Walking Challenge,” said Pohley Richey, health and wellness manager with the Idaho Dairy Council. “We hope all of the participants will continue to make strides toward improved health and wellness.” 

About The Author

Amy Stahl works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.