The Recreation Department has launched an online fitness initiative for children in pre-school through fifth grade. And Director Amy Hamilton hopes the thought behind it inspires residents of all ages to be more active.
“Bedford Kids: Stronger Together” is designed “to bring kids (and families) together to stay strong, healthy and well during these challenging times,” said Hamilton.
“Our hope is that kids or their parents will submit their fitness activity information and we can keep a running tally to show how active Bedford kids are in spite of the challenges that we are all navigating together,” she continued. The information, including forms for recording progress, is at https://sites.google.com/view/bedfordrecfitness/home.
“While kids are staying active in different ways and on their own, we wanted to create a way to remind them that they are all together in their common fitness goal,” Hamilton said.
The key variable in the program is mileage credit for all kinds of activities that don’t directly translate into mileage. Participants can walk and run on a track, sidewalk, or trail for an actual distance. But they also can calculate other kinds of exercise using a formula where 15 minutes equals one mile.
“All exercises and wellness activities count, from mindfulness to yoga, to jogging, to shooting baskets, to walking the dog, or playing in the backyard,” Hamilton said.
To share information, participants complete and submit a Google form. Every week, Hamilton said, her department “will randomly select a participant to feature, sharing their favorite fitness activities and accomplishments.”
“It’s not a contest; it’s something everybody can do,” Hamilton said. She said she hopes the new program “will help get kids motivated as part of a larger group. We can keep posting and watch the numbers grow.”
Hamilton said the intent behind this kids’ effort actually applies to everyone. There are fitness options residents may not have considered. For example, she is taking advantage of trails in town – “it’s my ‘think time.’ I never realized the town has this incredibly extensive trails network. There probably are people who have never even been on the trails. They will be surprised.”
“I’m always out and about. Since the pandemic, I’ve doubled my time outdoors,” Hamilton related. “I hope other people are doing this, but it’s tough sometimes, and parents tell us it’s hard to get kids motivated.”
“We want people to be cognizant of that fact that fitness doesn’t have to mean going to a soccer practice,” Hamilton said. “There are so many things kids can do, whether it’s walking the dog or raking bags of leaves – there are so many ways of being active.”
The Recreation Department is spreading the word through channels like the parent-teacher organization Bedford Elementary Schools Together (BEST), as well as social media platforms like Facebook.
The department’s package also includes a list of area outdoor resources, including Bedford trail maps, 10 local fields and parks, the high school track, Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge, Minute Man National Historical Park, and state parks, as well as virtual Recreation Department programs.
“It would be awesome to see the numbers go up, but it’s a win even if people just get ideas, look at the resources, and be active,” said the recreation director.
Individual achievement may be tracked using the printable calendar on the Bedford Kids: Stronger Together webpage, Hamilton said. “Group milestones will be posted periodically as well. Can we make it to 72,000 miles in one month? That’s roughly two miles per day for each Davis and Lane student.”
Information about this program, associated links, and other recreation programs can be found at www.bedfordrecreation.org.