Mount Edgecumbe High School students and staff complete Walk To New York wellness program

MEHSlogobannerThe students and staff of Mount Edgecumbe High School recently completed a Walk To New York wellness program that saw one team walk the entire distance from Sitka to New York City (2,897 miles, according to Allison Sayer, who coordinated the program for the state-run boarding school).

Several Mount Edgecumbe High School students walk across the O'Connell Bridge on Friday, March 29.

Several Mount Edgecumbe High School students walk across the O’Connell Bridge on Friday, March 29.

This voluntary program for students and staff started on Jan. 28 and ended April 15. Teams had 12 members. Each participant received a pedometer and logged their steps each day on charts posted throughout the dormitories, Allison said. Many students took additional trips “over the bridge” to town to get more steps (Mount Edgecumbe High School is located on Japonski Island, across the O’Connell Bridge from downtown Sitka located on Baranof Island). There also were walking events at night in the school’s B.J. McGillis Gymnasium.

Maps helped record the students’ and staff members’ progress as they walked across the continent, and students won various prizes donated by local merchants for reaching different milestones. All of the teams that reached Chicago (2,329 miles from Sitka, using airline mileage charts) were invited to participate on a cruise on the Eyak, donated by David Castle, to Medvejie Hatchery just outside Sitka.

One team, Team No. 4, made it all the way to New York City and will celebrate with a party. The team included students Hannah Kimber, Caelin Murray, Pearl Jackson, Coral Jackson, Jewel Jackson, Taylor Stumpf, Shannon Ongtowasruk and Evelyn Evans, plus staff members Ron Grimm, Lacey Wolfe, Rose Demmert and Jessie Natkong.

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Alaska Airlines employees host “Sitka Sue Walk” on April 20 to help fight cancer

Participants line up for the 2011 Sitka Sue Walk

Participants line up for the 2011 Sitka Sue Walk. (Photo courtesy of Sheri Buggins)

The Alaska Airlines station in Sitka has been hit hard by cancer in recent years, which is why the local airline employees will host the Sixth Annual Sitka Sue Walk at 8:30 a.m. (meet at 8:15) on Saturday, April 20, at the Rocky Gutierrez Airport.

This annual walk honors the memory of long-time Alaska Airlines employee Sue “Sitka Sue” Frank, who passed away in 2007 from lung cancer. Last year the airline lost another Sitka employee, John Gassman, to cancer. Saturday’s five-kilometer walk from the airport to the Sitka Fire Hall and back will honor both in a “Flight to Fight” cancer.

Sitka Sue was known for her walks around Sitka, and her goal was to walk at least seven miles a day. After her death, a park bench was placed in her honor in front of the Sitka Fire Hall, where firefighters fondly remember the many meals she cooked for for them over the years. After her death, the local

Alaska Airlines employees dedicated their new employee wellness walking program to her.

Donations of $10 are suggested, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society‘s Sitka Relay For Life, which will be held July 12-13 at Sitka’s Moller Park track/football field. This is one of many ACS Relay For Life events around the country (here’s more info about the Sitka event from this KCAW-Raven Radio interview in February).

Alaska Airlines will have a team at the Sitka Sue Walk, and there will be luminarias to honor Sue and John. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Sheri Buggins at 738-0254.

Ruffle your feathers and join the annual Parade of Species on Friday, April 19

Ruffle your feathers and join the annual Parade of Species on Friday, April 19

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Channel your inner eagle, urchin, bear or ladybug by wearing your Tongass-inspired costume during the Sitka Conservation Society‘s 12th annual Parade of Species on Friday, April 19.

Gather at 2:30 p.m. at Totem Square, and the parade starts marching down Lincoln Street at 3 p.m. The parade finishes at the Rasmuson Student Services Center on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, where participants can check out several Earth Day-related booths.

Prizes will be awarded in these categories — Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Creative, Most Realistic, and Best Local Animal. Wear a Tongass-inspired costume, enjoy a nice walk through downtown Sitka, then join us for family friendly games after the parade at Rasmuson Center on the Sitka Fine Arts Campus.

Kids wanting help building costumes can join the Alaska-Way-of-Life 4H club for a pair of recycled costume-making classes from 4-6 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday at the Karsh Classroom at the Sitka Sound Science Center.  Some materials will be provided. Classes are free and open to the public.

On Monday, April 15, three staff members from the Sitka Conservation Society discussed the Parade of Species and other Earth Day/Week events on the Morning Interview on KCAW-Raven Radio. Photos from the 2012 Parade of Species can be found on the Sitka Conservation Society page on Facebook.

For more information, contact Tracy Gagnon of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.

Construction work starts on the Sitka Sea Walk

SEA WALK WORK – CBC Construction’s Frank Kimball moves rocks near the Sitka Sound Science Center this morning. Work has begun on the $1.22 million sea walk project including the stretch of sidewalk near the center that had dead-ended at the Crescent Harbor breakwater. The CBC bid for the scenic walk was so far below the estimated cost that five optional additional improvements were added to the project. The project will widen the sidewalk along Crescent Harbor, connect it to a new walkway in front of the Sitka Sound Science Center and add a walkway along the beach to Sitka National Historical Park. The add ons include using Alaska yellow cedar instead of treated lumber for the boardwalk; a walkway spur atop the eastern breakwater of Crescent Harbor; installing site lighting; improving Crescent Park drainage, and adding a trail from the basketball court to the entrance of the SJ Campus. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

SEA WALK WORK – CBC Construction’s Frank Kimball moves rocks near the Sitka Sound Science Center this morning. Work has begun on the $1.22 million sea walk project including the stretch of sidewalk near the center that had dead-ended at the Crescent Harbor breakwater. The CBC bid for the scenic walk was so far below the estimated cost that five optional additional improvements were added to the project. The project will widen the sidewalk along Crescent Harbor, connect it to a new walkway in front of the Sitka Sound Science Center and add a walkway along the beach to Sitka National Historical Park. The add ons include using Alaska yellow cedar instead of treated lumber for the boardwalk; a walkway spur atop the eastern breakwater of Crescent Harbor; installing site lighting; improving Crescent Park drainage, and adding a trail from the basketball court to the entrance of the Sheldon Jackson Campus. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Friday, April 12, 2013, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel features a photo by James Poulson of the start of construction on the new Sitka Sea Walk.

The photo shows an earthmover from CBC Construction starting to move rocks near the Sitka Sound Science Center, which is one of the highlighted stops along the new pathway that will run from Crescent Harbor downtown to the Sitka National Historical Park. The Sitka Assembly awarded the contract to CBC Construction in March, and city officials were able to add five add-ons to the project because the winning bid was so low. The project is funded by cruise tax money and construction is expected to continue into the summer. Click here for more information about the project.

Sitka Assembly issues proclamation supporting Walk Sitka efforts to make Sitka a Walk Friendly Community

Walk Sitka member Don Jones, left, receives a copy of a proclamation supporting the group's efforts to improve Sitka's walkability from Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

Walk Sitka member Don Jones, left, receives a copy of a proclamation supporting the group’s efforts to improve Sitka’s walkability from Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

On Tuesday, April 9, the Sitka Assembly issued a proclamation supporting the efforts of Walk Sitka to make Sitka a Walk Friendly Community. Later in the meeting, the Assembly directed Mayor Mim McConnell to sign the International Charter for Walking.

Walk Sitka is a group formed after the 2012 Sitka Health Summit with the goal to help Sitka recognize and improve its walking experience. The group is preparing a Walk Friendly Communities award application in the hope Sitka can become the first Alaska community to earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation (Juneau earned an honorable mention in 2010, the first year of the program).

The Walk Friendly Communities application requires a variety of information about a community’s walkability, such as planning, education and encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation. The process allows groups to really evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their community’s walkability, and helps them develop plans to make their cities and towns more walkable. Walk Sitka expects to submit its application for a Walk Friendly Communities award during the next application cycle (May 1-June 15).

Walk Sitka members Charles Bingham, left, Eric Jordan and Don Jones show off the proclamation issued by the Sitka Assembly supporting the group's efforts to make Sitka a walk friendly community.

Walk Sitka members Charles Bingham, left, Eric Jordan and Don Jones show off the proclamation issued by the Sitka Assembly supporting the group’s efforts to make Sitka a walk friendly community.

The proclamation noted that Sitka has several factors that make it a walk friendly community. Sitka has an extensive trail system. it has a culture of walking (Sitka has four times the national average of people who commute to work by walking), it has a growing number of walking programs (such as Park Prescriptions, the Wednesday Walks In The Park, the SAIL Senior Hiking Club and others), and exciting new projects such as the Sitka Sea Walk that will be built this summer. The proclamation also noted how walking is one of the best ways for people to improve their health, and how walkable communities help improve the economy of their cities and towns.

The International Charter for Walking has been signed by individuals, groups and communities in a multitude of countries around the world. Right now, more than 4,000 signatures are on the charter, with the top five countries being the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia and Germany. The charter has a variety of goals that help communities build cultures of walking, such as inclusive mobility, integrated networks, less crime, spaces for people, reducing road danger, spatial planning, supported authorities, and the promotion of walking.

• Proclamation from the Sitka Assembly supporting the work Walk Sitka is doing to make Sitka a walk friendly community

• International Charter for Walking signed by Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell

Get up and move on Wednesday, April 3, for National Walking Day

NationalWalkingDay_1240x800-620x400Wednesday, April 3, is the American Heart Association‘s National Walking Day, and on this day companies, organizations and individuals across America are going to wear sneakers to work, take 30 minutes to walk and pledge to live heart-healthy lives.

These days, adults like spend more time at work than ever before, much of it chained to a desk. An unfortunate side effect is that, as a nation, we’re becoming more inactive. This is a problem when you consider the fact that physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease.

On National Walking Day, employees are encouraged to wear sneakers to work and take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. It’s a great way to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and to give your co-workers a friendly push toward a healthier life.

By downloading the National Walking Day toolkit, worksite wellness teams can design one-day walking events or six-week walking programs to help get employees and bosses more active. Some tips include holding walking meetings, setting up printers so you have to walk down the hall to get your printouts, standing up every time you talk on the phone, and holding lunchtime walks. Getting out and walking helps reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer and other medical conditions, and walking also helps relieve work stress and gives employees a chance to recharge for the rest of the work day.

In Sitka, people can participate in a variety of walking/hiking programs, such as Park Prescriptions, the Wednesday Walk In The Parks, the Senior Hiking Club and more. Or they can walk on their own, with family or their dogs to get out and enjoy Sitka’s natural beauty.