P.O. BOX 2120




November 21, 2003




Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Application for the Governors WALK SMART, VIRGINIA! Initiative


The Virginia Department of Education is pleased to extend an invitation to schools to participate in the Governor's Walk Smart, Virginia! initiative. Developed through a public-private partnership, Walk Smart, Virginia! targets fourth-, seventh-, and ninth-grade students, challenging them to virtually walk across Virginia. On a first-come, first-serve basis, approximately 1,000 schools will receive pedometers to provide students with a reliable way of measuring physical activity and setting achievable goals. The pedometers will be loaned to fourth-, seventh-, and ninth-grade students in a manner similar to the method used for lending textbooks; in this way, Walk Smart, Virginia! will be a sustainable program and will offer a long-term resource to schools that want to address physical inactivity and help their students maintain healthy weight.


Given the growing epidemic of obesity and the link between physical activity and academic performance, the primary goal of Walk Smart, Virginia! is to increase daily physical activity levels of students. Study after study proves that increased physical activity has a positive effect on academic achievement, including increased concentration; improved mathematics, reading, and writing test scores; and reduced disruptive behavior. Unfortunately, our children are becoming less physically active. They are gaining weight and are developing "adult" diseases. According to a Surgeon General's report, today there are nearly twice as many overweight children and almost three times as many overweight adolescents as there were in 1980. Type 2 diabetes in adolescents increased ten-fold between 1982 and 1994; and, the CDC warns, one in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic unless they eat less and exercise more.


Through Walk Smart, Virginia!, students will learn to monitor and adjust their activity levels on a daily basis using the Walk Smart website's monitoring program. Students will log on to the Walk Smart, Virginia! website, set goals, enter the number of steps they have walked, and view a map of Virginia and their position along a selected walking route. The website includes information about the locations along the route and integrates aspects of history, geography, recreation, and nutrition education. The site will also include a steps-to-miles converter, a body-mass index calculator, and links to other health and physical activity websites.


The application for the Governor's Walk Smart, Virginia! program is attached. Thank you for your continued interest in and support of quality physical education programs. Please contact Vanessa C. Wigand ( principal specialist, health, physical education and driver education at (804) 225-3300 for additional information about the program.