Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail and physical activity
Doby’s Mill Elementary, located in Lugoff, SC believes their students should develop healthy lifestyles by participating in physical fitness and health education activities. This is evident through activities such as the school’s annual “Race to Read” event as well as their “Jump Rope for Heart” fundraiser for the American Heart Association. In addition, the Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail provides the opportunity for students, families and community members to participate in physical activity outside of school hours. The fitness trail was paved in 2013 as a result of efforts by the school’s Parent Teacher Association. The local Eat Smart, Move More Chapter also played a role in creating signage and garnering publicity for the trail.
Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail is open to the community every day from dawn until dusk. During school hours, the school asks that visitors check in at the front office if they wish to use the trail. Mileage markers indicate that a mile can be completed by taking three laps around the trail. The paved trail offers a few additional features including fitness stations with instructions and equipment for activities such as pull-ups or stretching. The fitness trail is promoted through the school newsletter and staff meetings, as well as the school’s annual health and fitness fair. In addition, because the trail is used for class activities, students often share information about the trail with their families.
According to Assistant Principal John Folger, the trail is used daily by students, staff, parents and older adults. He believes the fitness trail provides a great opportunity for students and parents to walk together after school and helps to promote a healthy lifestyle to families. Another major benefit of the fitness trail is the way it has been able to contribute to the school’s positive relationship with the community.
One of the greatest benefits of the trail is its availability as a safe place for physical activity. Because the school is located along a busy 55 MPH road, the opportunity to exercise without concerns about traffic is a valuable one. According to Doby’s Mill parent Desiree Crocker, the trail is one of only a couple places to run in the area other than the side of the road. She uses the trail frequently for running as well as walks with her family. Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail has “impacted [her] health greatly” by providing a safe place to exercise when trying to lose weight after her pregnancy. Because of stories like this, Doby’s Mill Elementary hopes to continue to promote the fitness trail as an opportunity for its community to get physical activity and develop healthy lifestyles.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging schools and districts to expand open community use statewide. Healthy Eating/Active Living coordinators from DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity are providing assistance and guidance in an effort to convince schools across South Carolina to make their outdoor facilities available for public use to promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and stronger communities.