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Students and families walk — kind of — to Disney World

TAYLOR KELLY PHOTO Walkers completing a lap on the track covered enough miles in the five-day event last week to have walked rom Shelter Island to Disney World.
TAYLOR KELLY PHOTO Walkers completing a lap on the Shelter Island School’s track. Participants covered enough miles in the five-day event last week to have walked from Shelter Island to Disney World.

What started as an exercise for Shelter Island Scho0l’s pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade students became a community event last week as students in all grades, teachers, family members and friends showed up to take a walk on the school’s track.

It was all part of the school’s first effort at the “A Walk Across America” project. It’s a program started several years ago by Peter Jenkins, who took a journey from New York to New Orleans in a trip of self discovery. The idea has since spread to individuals and groups and increasingly schools have been taking walks to encourage student health and physical fitness.

Physical education teacher Taylor Kelly initially was aiming simply to have the students cover the mileage between Shelter Island and New York City. But that was quickly surpassed on the first day, so a new goal was set to walk the distance between here and Disney World in Orlando, Florida — 1,194 miles.

Each student received a lap card that was punched each time the walker completed a single lap of the track. When the card was filled, showing the particpant had covered about 10 miles, a new lap card was issued.

On Friday walkers completed the effort, clocking in at 1,214 miles.

“This was the first time an event like this was held at Shelter Island and I am so excited with how many students, families and faculty members joined us,” Ms. Kelly said. “We just wanted to get the students and families moving and being active together.”

By including family members, it gave them 40 minutes to walk and talk and spend quality time together, she added.

Two Board of Education members — Linda Eklund and Kathleen Lynch — were spotted on the track during Friday’s finale.

Next year, the event could turn into a fundraiser for a cause or causes yet to be determined, Ms. Kelly said.

The PTSA supported the Island’s A Walk Across America, bringing refreshments to the track, she said.