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Minnehaha School walk benefits traverse wall

Students at Minnehaha Elementary take off at high speeds for their first lap around their school building Wednesday. To celebrate National Walk and Bike to School Day and raise funds for a traverse wall, the whole school participated in a walk-a-thon. Students gathered pledges then walked as many laps as they could in 30 minutes. (Photos by Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)1 / 5
Students at Minnehaha Elementary round their first corner during the Rise & Climb walk-a-thon fundraiser Wednesday. 2 / 5
The bicycle rack outside Minnehaha Elementary is filled with children's bikes on National Walk and Bike to School Day.3 / 5
Val Bolen and Robin Churchill cheer on the running students.4 / 5
Third grade teacher Christy Voltz holds a clipboard and watches for her students. As each of her students pass by her, Voltz makes a tally mark on her clipboard to help the students keep track of their laps. 5 / 5

Students at Minnehaha Elementary in Two Harbors got into the spirit of National Walk and Bike to School Day on Wednesday by hosting a walk-a-thon. Rather than walk to school that morning, students garnered pledges and walked laps around the outside of the school for half an hour.

Physical education teacher Kim Pierson organized the third annual event.

"We used to have all the students walk to school from the Depot to the school in the morning, but it got really hard to coordinate. If it rained, we'd have to try to contact people and the buses. And it wasn't accessible for our special needs kids," Pierson said. "This way is 100 percent accessible and all our kids can join in. They can go as fast or slow as they want and they won't be left behind."

The event serves a dual purpose. First, it's a chance for the school to exercise together.

"It's a good way for us to be active in the middle of our longer school days," Pierson said. "We get to be outside together."

Second, the walk is a fundraiser. Students raise money based on how many laps they walk. In the past the funds have gone toward new playground equipment or the positive behavior program. The funds will go to building a traverse wall — a climbing wall on which students climb horizontally, not vertically.

"We've seen a few of them across the U.S. and it's a great way to get kids to be physically active," Pierson said. "We have a lot of students who like to be active, but they don't like the traditional activities like soccer, football, baseball, so this is a good way for them to find ways to be active and move in our longer school days. We're hoping to put it in the school along a hallway so that students could even use it when walking to class."

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