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Walking Buddies promote physical activity

Twenty students volunteer in the Walking Buddies program every Thursday to exercise with Pinedale Elementary students. The program provides an opportunity for students to satisfy community service requirements as well as mentor younger children over the course of 12 weeks.

Similar to Book Buddies, the program pairs campus teens with third through sixth grade students at Pinedale to influence growth and foster an appreciation for exercise.

Although Walking Buddies consumes a combined chapel and lunch period each week, many students involved enjoy their experience with the Pinedale children.

“The kids are really nice and seem very willing to be your friend,” Rachel Wilhelm, ’11, said. “It?s just fun to hang out with them and see what they do, because you can have an influence on their lives when they may have no other good moral influence.?

The Pinedale kids divide into groups for the students to supervise. Freshman Cooper Belmont joined to increase his ability to interact with younger kids.

?I thought I?d join because I’ve always really liked kids,” Belmont said. “It?s like a little group, with three buddies each that are a lot of fun when you get to know them.”

As a student in the program last year, senior Tonia Keys-Bramlett signed up again to spend time with her buddy. However, the program made some changes for the 2008-09 year which altered the experience for volunteers.

?There was a lot more one-on-one time with the kids last year,? Keys-Bramlett said. ?Because we are in groups now, it?s not as personal. But it still means a the kids, and it’s very gratifying to see their smile. ”

Although the program satisfies community service requirements, other students prefer to spend their time with more “exciting” organizations.

?I?ve never done walking buddies, but it really didn?t interest me anyway,? Nacoya Villegas, ’10, said. ?I enjoy more spiritual things. It?s better for me to pray over people and to serve those in need with food.”

For more information on Walking Buddies, visit the high school office or a member of the program.

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