Sandy writes about our passion for childhood fitness and what we are doing to raise awareness across the United States.
The primary mission of Trekking the Planet is to raise geography awareness in students around the world. In fact, during our global journey, we had over 50,000 students in 20 countries following our trip, as we made our way through 53 countries on six continents. We continue to speak to classrooms and civic groups about the importance of geography. During our presentations we use our pictures and videos to bring geography to life, and challenge others to learn more about the world in which we live.
In seeking the cultural and natural significance of the world during our journey, we also stressed an active lifestyle. A cornerstone of our expedition was a series of treks, or overnight hikes, which allowed us to walk to places not easily accessible by vehicles. Our 12 treks, covering almost 500 miles, took us above Sweden’s Arctic Circle, into one of Europe’s last remaining wilderness areas, to the Mustang region of Nepal, where people travel by foot or by horseback, and to the deep Amazon of Brazil, over 200 miles from any major city. By hiking in these remote places we got to experience authentic culture and see stunning scenery.
Before we left on our journey, we wrote a story about promoting an active lifestyle. Our hope was to challenge others, including students, to view walking as a way to get active and to experience new places.
Upon returning to the United States, we became more concerned about the inactivity epidemic in our country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. At the present time, 12.5 million children, ages 6-19 in the United States are obese. Many more are overweight.
Wanting to do our part, we are working to raise awareness about the benefits of childhood fitness by organizing a Race Across USA. In January, a team of 12 international runners will begin a 4 ½ month journey. They will run a marathon (26.2 miles a day) over 140 days, from California to the White House in Washington, D.C. Along the way, these runners will visit schools and participate in community events, with the goal of sparking a renaissance in childhood health and fitness. Darren is one of the 12 runners. And I am the Race Director, overseeing the group as they cross the country.
Just as we continue to excite classrooms about geography, we hope to motivate students to get fit. If the the Race Across USA route travels close to your school, contact us for a free presentation by the runners.
No matter where you are located, you can follow the race or take a walk of your own. We are partnering with World Walking, a free website that contains a list of virtual walks that you can do as an individual or as a group. Imagine walking through great cities, such as Beijing, Paris, London, or Sydney without leaving home. All you need to do is to go for a walk (or run), and add your miles, kilometers or steps to the World Walking walk you have chosen. Along the way you will learn interesting facts, history, and the geography of the place that you are walking.
There is even a Race Across USA walk on the World Walking website. Individuals or groups can virtually walk 3,000 miles across the United States in conjunction with the Race Across USA runners. Classrooms can create a group and add up the miles from all of their students.
And what about Trekking the Planet? We are still passionate about geography and are speaking about our journey several times between now and the end of the year. And once we are back from Race Across USA we are talking about another expedition. Stay tuned…