Almost two years after the launch of Don’t Walk in the Hallway, Alberta organizers are celebrating its expansion.
The program — which encourages kids to be active indoors at school — was launched in early 2015 by Chris Fenlon-MacDonald, then the physical education specialist at Panorama Hills School in Calgary.
Aimed at school-aged children, Don’t Walk in the Hallway has been a huge success — so much so, it is now found in close to 100 schools, as well as a handful of recreational centres across Alberta.
As part of the program, existing floor tiles in school hallways are covered with a brightly coloured adhesive. As they walk between classes, or participate in indoor recess, kids can then jump, skip, or hop across the colours, creating patterns in movement.
One study has found that kids take roughly 1,000 extra steps per day when the program is offered in their schools.
“Don’t Walk in the Hallway takes a passive environment and turns it into an active one,” says Fenlon-MacDonald, now the provincial education coordinator for Ever Active Schools, a wellness initiative within the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
“Hopefully it will support our desire to see kids active for life.”
Kids love it, and parents and educators do, too, he notes.
“What we’re finding is that it’s changing the culture of schools. That is probably the most profound thing,” says Fenlon-MacDonald.
“Now we’re seeing that movement is normalized behaviour. Students are developing the confidence to move, and they’re motivated to move.”
Teachers, educators, parents, and recreation centre facilitators can now order do-it-yourself kits to create programs within their own facilities. (Click on the “resources” tab.)
So far, kits have made their way to schools across Canada and even into the U.S. Each contains vinyl floor decals as well as lesson plans and communication starters to explain the program to parents, teachers, administrators, and students.
And — as a bonus — each floor decal has been created so that it can be used within a school’s math curriculum, as well.
Fenlon-MacDonald developed the idea for Don’t Walk in the Hallway after attending a talk by Canadian physical literacy expert Dean Kriellaars.
He was so inspired by Kriellaars’ presentation, that he approached the staff at Panorama Hills to see if they’d be interested in implementing some of Kriellaar’s suggestions.
Fenlon-MacDonald then worked with Kirk Newman, a math specialist with the Calgary Board of Education, to create coloured patterns for the floor tiles that would help develop creative movement as well as numeracy skills.
For Fenlon-MacDonald, Don’t Walk in the Hallway is just one step toward developing a child’s physical literacy, as well as boosting overall fitness levels and academic achievement. “It recognizes the importance that physical activity has on both health and academic outcomes,” he says. “It’s about creating awareness of the connection between activity and learning.”
Ultimately, Fenlon-MacDonald says he and his team hope that there will be no need for a program such as Don’t Walk in the Hallway, because the ideas behind it will be intrinsically built into every new school and public space.
“It would be great if this was normalized in the design of new school builds, if architects and design firms would have to demonstrate they’re intentionally designing activity-permissive learning environments,” he says
“We’d love to see a shift in the design norms of education spaces and, ultimately, public spaces.”