Island Trail Running Series

Island Trail Running Series

Photo Caption: Frank Driscoll, Rebecca Torrisi, and Laura Ryan running during Island Trail Running Series at Pelots Point Nature Area in North Hero, VT

A RiseVT Mini Grant Project

During July and August of 2017 Healthy Island and Community Support Inc. hosted an eight-week trail running series at Pelots Bay Recreation Area in North Hero, VT.  Over the course of the series the program had 60 people register to run.  Many of them were repeat runners resulting in a total of 121 participants in the race series.  Of the 60 racers, 28 were under the age of 18 and many were first time racers.  To the organizers surprise many participants that signed up simply ran for the fun of being a part of a group activity.  Runners included repeat father and son, mother and daughter, and husband and wife pairs as well as multi-generational families running with competing cousins.  This series was a wonderful way to offer the opportunity to engage with family, community, and nature in a healthy activity.

In 2017 RiseVT’s Mini Grant allowed Healthy Islands and Community Support Inc. to purchase the start-up equipment necessary to get this series started.  Now the race is established and has a following we hope to expand it to South Hero in 2018 and continue to work with RiseVT to help embrace healthy lifestyles.

Top finishers cool down while sharing war stories of the trail at Pelots Point Nature Area in North Hero, VT on July 19th 2017.  From left to right: Mike Desilets, Tim Torrisi, Mark Duchaine, and Tim Richmond.

A toddler crosses the finish line after running the tot race during Island Trail Running Series at Pelots Point Nature Area in North Hero, VT

Water Fountains at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School

Water Fountains at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School

In 2017 RiseVT supported a Mini Grant Project at Bakersfield School in the amount of $2,500.00 to support the school’s effort in embracing healthy lifestyles. The grant funds went to purchasing a water fountain and stainless steel water bottles for all students, faculty, and staff in the building.

The fountain was installed in the gym and has had a positive impact to accessing drinking water. Previously during the day students had to go to the nurse to get cold water from her cooler, now they merely have to proceed to the fountain and fill up their water bottle. During sporting events students are now able to get a drink from the fountain or fill their bottles without having to run to the hall water fountain. This addition has eliminated the need to purchase bottled water, which also saves on recycling and waste.

The Wellness Team at Bakersfield School continues to encourage all students and staff to choose to drink water as part of a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of benefits drinking water has on our health and if access to drinking water is easier than access to other sugary beverages together we create an environment where making the healthy choice is the easiest choice.

Bringing mindfulness to schools

Bringing mindfulness to schools

On Saturday March 24th, area educators had the opportunity to learn about using yoga and mindfulness in their classrooms from Lisa Flynn Founder and CEO of Yoga 4 Classrooms. RiseVT sponsored the 6-hour workshop for educators in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

Throughout the workshop, Flynn stories about why she started teaching yoga and her perspective on why teaching young students to be mindful is crucial. She defined being mindful as being present, being aware of what is happening now, without judgment.

Flynn said she started this program after seeing an “increasing number of students across the country lack the skills of self-regulation, impulse control and focus which can affect behavior, ability to learn and overall wellbeing.” Her belief is that “sharing yoga and mindfulness techniques, specifically designed for the time and space crunched classroom, is a convenient, engaging and effective way to promote these skills while cultivating a positive, peaceful productive classroom climate.”

During this workshop teachers were given a teacher’s guide and Yoga 4 Classrooms deck of cards. This deck includes 67 yoga and mindfulness-based activities, categorized and specially designed to be easy to implement into a busy and demanding curriculum based schedule.

When teachers asked how to make time to include this in the day, Flynn replied that with the correct mindset and a little repetition teachers will soon be asking “how did I not have time for this before?” Morning meetings, transitions between activities and subjects, before a test, during community events or celebrations, or any time someone might need to reactivate and reengage are times to pull out the deck of cards and practice self-awareness, she added.

“The greatest opportunity for implantation is by practicing yourself,” said Flynn. “Maybe you just had a tough phone call and your students are coming back from recess. Briefly explain how you as the teacher are feeling ‘I have a knot in my stomach, could we do some breathing exercise to refocus ourselves before moving into math?’ What you will find is the students are thrilled to help be a solution to making you feel better. By including the students into the decision to participate, you are helping to build community within your classroom.”

A kindergarten teacher expressed some frustration and resistance some children might have with sitting them down to ‘just breathe.’ Lisa explained the best tool is to get your body involved by adding movement.

During the training, Flynn walked through several of the cards demonstrating how easy it is to implement, consistently asking the educators to notice how they were feeling while participating in the mindfulness activity and providing many additional tools educators could walk away from the day with. At the end of the day Flynn asked educators if they felt they were ready to implement on Monday. Every single person in the room raised their hands.

It was common to hear teachers talking amongst themselves throughout the day thinking outside of the box on how they could implement the tools in their classroom, and school. Several wish to continue on with mindfulness trainings.


By, Rachel Narkewicz RiseVT Promotions Specialist

Make Valentine’s Day loving and healthy

Make Valentine’s Day loving and healthy

Traditionally Valentine’s Day means wine and chocolate, while both may be good for you in moderation, why not start a new tradition this year?

For families with young children, hold a dance party right in your living room. Aren’t sure of the moves, try some online dance programs for kids such as Just Dance Kids.

Crafts are always a welcome activity. Make a valentine for a relative, neighbor or family friend. Or help our flying friends by making a birdseed heart to hang outside. All you need is cookie cutters, birdseed, and something to bind the seed together such as unflavored gelatin or corn syrup. Be sure to hang them where birds can perch on a branch to peck at them.

Random acts of kindness are a great way to celebrate the life of St. Valentine, whom Catholic tradition says cured a blind girl. Visit a nursing home, hand out flowers, or show your appreciation for local fire fighters, police, or library staff with baked goods,

Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to express love for your fellow human beings, even those you don’t know.

Forego the box of chocolates and give the gift of time together instead. Make a personalized coupon book which can be cashed in for future activities or favors. Purchase tickets to an event you’ll both enjoy or simply bundle up and head outside to snowshoe, ski or skate.

Make dinner together or simply pass the evening in front of the fire – with phones turned off.

If children are having a celebration at school, replace sugary snacks with a healthy alternative such as raisins, grapes, or whole grain pretzels. Stickers, fun erasers or colored pencils are a calorie-free alternative to candy and cookies.

Whatever you do, remember to enjoy the day with those you love.

By: Rachel Narkewicz, RiseVT Promotions Specialist and Michelle Monroe, St. Albans Messenger Executive Editor

Winter walks to school

Winter walks to school

The annual Winter Walk Day is coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 7. This nationally recognized day aims to encourage kids to get out and be active before and after school. Create a walking school bus in your neighborhood, slow down and enjoy the snow, and best of all get your physical activity in early and wiggles out before settling in for a day of learning. Walking to school or work helps reduce air pollution and traffic congestion around school zones.

Anabelle Peak of St. Albans City School

It’s also fun, according to St. Albans City School third grader Anabelle Peake. “I have been doing Walking Wednesdays for three years,” said Anabelle. “I think it’s nice cause you get some exercise and it is just fun. My parents think it’s fine. They think it gives me a chance to get off the bus. Friends on your street get a chance to walk with you. It is not hard. To other kids… Try to get out there and do Walking  Wednesdays.”
In partnership with Local Motion, RiseVT hopes that you and your family get out and walk on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Winter Walking 101

Winter is officially here, but that doesn’t mean an end to children walking to school. Being Vermonters there is never bad weather only the wrong layers. So with the right preparation, company, and spirit walking to school in the winter can be fun and enjoyable! Follow these six helpful tips to encourage students to continue walking to school all winter long:

  1. Check the forecast and avoid days that are too cold, windy, or snowy. We do live in Vermont so plan to be flexible and have a backup date that works for your family and neighborhood.
  2. Take a buddy! It’s more fun and safer for all.
  3. Dress for the winter weather – wear layers to help regulate your body temperature along with winter boots and warm socks to keep your toes warm. Don’t forget your hats and mittens for ultimate insulation against the cold!
  4. Take safety precautions – wear bright colors, stay visible, and always look both ways before crossing the road. Remember to walk against traffic if you must be on the road for part of your walk.
  5. Take safety precautions – wear bright colors, stay visible, and always look both ways before crossing the road. Remember to walk against traffic if you must be on the road for part of your walk.
  6. Stay hydrated, we often forget when having so much fun that we might work up a sweat. By drinking water before and after your walk to school you are helping to avoid dehydration.

By Rachel Narkewicz, RiseVT Promotion Specialist