The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is partnering with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Cooper Institute to launch the “Walk Across Texas!” challenge to help motivate school employees, students and their families to exercise on a regular basis.

The announcement of the statewide “Walk Across Texas!” challenge is in conjunction with Texas Obesity Awareness Week, which began last week.

Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said, “A recent study of 2.6 million Texas students found that physically fit students do better in school, have higher levels of school attendance and are less likely to have disciplinary referrals. Based on those findings, it seems incredibly appropriate to launch a physical fitness challenge to encourage more students to become fit.”

The “Walk Across Texas” program has helped thousands of children and adults establish a habit of regular physical activity by tracking their progress as they walk 830 miles “across” the state. This research-based program, developed by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, provides more than 270 lessons by grade level and subject to support physical activity programs in schools.

TEA and Texas AgriLife are joined in this project by the Cooper Institute of Dallas, which has been a leading advocate for improving children’s physical health.

“I challenge every classroom, every school district employee and every TEA staff member to form a walking team and support our mission to improve student health,” said Scott.

Students, classrooms or school employees form teams of eight participants who will walk and log their miles over an eight-week period, beginning Sept. 21. Team members may walk alone or together to meet their 830-mile challenge. Students can increase their classroom mileage with bonus miles—time spent on their own exercising or miles earned by their parents.

Teams accumulating the most mileage will be recognized by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and TEA. Teams must register by Sept. 21 and all miles should be logged by Nov. 15.

Complete program details and materials can be found at http://walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu.