Ss. Simon and Jude school community ‘steps’ it up for good health

School leaders talk about putting your best foot forward. The Ss. Simon and Jude community is taking that literally.

Faculty, staff and students await the virtual starting line of the 2019 Arizona Walking Challenge. The “airhorn” will sound Oct. 7. They were among more than 2,000 participants who logged some 500 million steps in last year’s inaugural challenge — enough ground to cover nearly eight trips around the world.

Those who competed from Ss. Simon and Jude last year didn’t just log steps via Irish dance lessons, regular physical education class time and routine steps around the classroom and campus, but via personal challenges too. Some teachers exceeded expectations with the goal of completing half-marathons and endurance races during the challenge.  Ss. Simon and Jude students were amazed to see their teachers collect millions of steps on their way to achieving overall health and wellness at the school.

“Teaching is a very physical profession, so we’re moving frequently, but the Workplace Walking Challenge allows us to find small, impactful ways to bolster our efforts,” explained Cathy Chrisman, preschool director. 

Two Michigan sites will also host the challenge in 2020. Registration for the Arizona Walking Challenge, at, ends this week.

Sr. Raphael Quinn, IBVM, principal, was so inspired by last year’s challenge and the positive impact it had on her staff, the friendly competition is on to beat her in 2019. Staff gifted their principal with a new Fitbit last Christmas to help her continue to walk circles around her staff.  

Students should expect more Irish dancing this year, drum fit sessions and group walks to boost their step count. The Arizona Walking Challenge fits perfectly with the school’s focus on educating the whole person; mind, body and spirit Its “Minds in Motion” effort increases the brain and body working together through physical activities that focus on balance and coordination, as well as visual and auditory processing, explained Justine Keebler, P.E. teacher. 

Participants will log steps Oct. 7-Nov. 17. Awards will go to organizations based on participating rate, average number of steps per employee, most creative social media posts and most improved stepper.

Justine Keebler, P.E. teacher at Ss. Simon and Jude, contributed to this report.