Columbia Elementary School Raises Money For a Track

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COLUMBIA - Rock Bridge Elementary School will soon have its very own track for students, faculty and the community to use. Rock Bridge just finished raising enough money to build the track in the field next to the school. 

In the past, Rock Bridge has unsuccessfully tried to bring a track to the school. Last spring, the school decided to start a running club which sparked the concern for where the students would be able to run.

"We didn't have sidewalks," Rock Bridge nurse Jan Verslues. "We couldn't use the pedway because of the traffic situation, and so the only place we had to run was in the field."

Verslues said the track is estimated to cost between $6,000 and $8,000. Last spring, Verslues said the district could not provide funding because the track was not a high priority. At that point the school turned to alternative funding options. In total, the school raised about $7,500. 

Verslues did her research and contacted the other schools in the district that have tracks to ask where they received their funding from. Those school's tracks received grants from the City of Columbia. However, when Verslues contacted the city about possible grants she was told that because the school is outside of city limits it could not help Rock Bridge. Verslues said she then applied for multiple grants, pledges, and donations from families and businesses. 

In addition to providing a place for students in the running club to workout, the school hopes the track will encourage more students who are not in the club to exercise. 

"The gym teacher and I have talked about, 'do we talk to the kids about diet?' We said that is not the approach we ever want to take with our kids. We want to take the approach that kids need to be more active; they need to eat better. That is how I promote it with the staff. Just teach your kids to be more active, and they need to eat healthier foods."

Verslues hopes kids will take that information home to their parents and get their parents involved in exercising as well. The school plans to have the track open to the community so that kids will have the access so they will come to the track with their parents to exercise. 

Although the money is raised to build the track, CPS told the school construction cannot start until the HVAC system is done being installed. Verslues said she hopes it will be done by the spring. Until then, students in the running club will still be able to use the empty field to exercise.