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Press Release

Release Date: November 24, 2020

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Gabriella Mendez, Kingston Schools HealthCorps coordinator

Students and teachers in 32 Oklahoma public schools walked a combined total of just over 7,600 miles in October as part of HealthCorps’ nationwide “Walktober” step challenge.

The final group tally was 16,123,585 steps, or just shy of enough to march from Oklahoma City west on I-40 to Los Angeles and back three times.

Purcell Schools placed fourth in Oklahoma with over 6.6 million steps, Kingston Schools 10th place with almost 3.4 million steps, Davis Schools 17th with 2.1 million steps and Newcastle Schools 24th with more than 1.4 million steps.

“Walktober is a great way to motivate yourself while also encouraging others to work toward their goals,” said Jessica May, former HealthCorps coordinator for Davis Public Schools.

Ardeth Ludrick, Kingston Schools’ fifth grade teacher, said it was a fun experience.

“It was fun to have a little friendly competition and helped me stay at it on the days I felt too tired to exercise when I got home from work,” Ludrick said.

Gabriella Mendez, Kingston Schools’ HealthCorps coordinator, said she used Google Classroom to promote the step challenge, but also took other measures to get participation.

“I gave out prizes and let our students and faculty know we were representing Kingston nationwide,” Mendez said.

“I thought it would be a really good idea to get everyone motivated to walk together. That way, if everyone was doing it, maybe more people would want to create healthier habits for their lives,” she said.

Mendez said it was also helpful to make sure every participant understood the health benefits of walking.

“It improves cardiovascular health; it reduces stress. Also, with that I also encouraged them that if you’re going to start walking you need to drink more water and why water is so important.

“A few teachers told me and they had walked more in the Walktober challenge than they had all year and that it really motivated them to make a lifestyle change and to get active again. That made me feel good,” she said.

HealthCorps is a nonprofit organization that encourages students to be change agents within their families, schools and neighborhoods as a way promoting health and wellness both physically and mentally. The Chickasaw Nation sponsors HealthCorps in schools in Purcell, Kingston, Newcastle, Davis and Marietta, Oklahoma.