Proposed Greencastle-Antrim fitness trail would lead to healthy minds and bodies

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Greencastle-Antrim School District is seeking federal COVID-19 relief money to install a fitness trail on the campus as a way to improve social and emotional health, as well as academic achievement.

The school board recently gave the go-ahead to apply for ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds from the American Rescue Fund designated "to address gaps in students' learning and social and emotional wellness through the implementation of evidence-based interventions," according to a slide shown by Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, at the Nov. 18 school board meeting.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District is seeking COVID-19 relief money to install a fitness trail on the campus.

The fitness trail with various exercise stops also would be beneficial for district staff and members of the community.

Hanks gave examples of research that support the link between exercise and mental health.

In addition, lack of physical activity outside of wellness class is an area of concern identified in a student survey. And physical and emotional health is one of the five core competencies adopted early this year to fulfill the district's "portrait of a graduate."

Physical and emotional health is one of the five core competencies adopted early this year to fulfill the Greencastle-Antrim School District's 'portrait of a graduate.'

If funding is received, a district team will determine the specifics of the trail, and then bids would be solicited. The cost is estimated around $65,000 for equipment and installation.

The possibility is exciting, but it will not be a quick process, Hanks noted.

Typically, fitness trails have about five exercise stations. Hanks said it would be nice if they were spaced out so people could walk, run or jog a mile if they go the whole distance.

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It could be designed with a short route with a couple of exercise stops close to the schools and a longer route with the rest of the stations through the grounds of Tayamentasachta, the school district environmental center.

It may be possible to unearth a fitness trail that was on the campus years ago and follow the same route.

Physical education teachers would be able to incorporate the trail and exercise stations into wellness class curriculum and other teachers could take their students outside "if they feel kids need a break," Hanks said.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com