It just so happens that Wednesday, April 6 is National Start Walking Day, which couldn’t be a more ideal day for Edgemont to launch its new Boltage Bike and Walk program.
“It was perfect timing,” said Jennifer Hanawald, health and wellness liaison at the school, who along with Edgemont Principal Dr. Anderson, won a grant to bring the program to the school.
The grant through the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services provided the funding to install the Boltage system which uses an incentive program with emerging technology to encourage students to form healthy, life-long habits. The Boltage mission, according to the company website, is to make walking and biking to school a way of life.
The company aims to do this through providing little, backpack RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to each student who can then scan them with the solar-powered “Zap” machine each time they walk or bike to school. The Zap machine, a wifi internet-enabled RFID reader, flashes and beeps to let them know their trip has been registered. The program rewards kids each time they reach a certain number of trips or “Zap” level by recognizing their achievement with different colored wristbands.
“This is an innovative thing,” Hanawald said. “We are the first in NJ to have it, and among the first on the east coast.” The program started out west and is now employed at more than 30 schools.
“What I’m personally excited about is the [physical] activity and the green element, too,” Hanawald added.
With this program, according to company figures, Boltage has saved over 46,000 gallons of gas, eliminated over 922,000 pounds of CO2 emissions and burned over 22 million calories. All through kid power – 525,000 kid-powered miles to be exact.
So just before the morning bell, at 8:10 on Wednesday, the school is hosting a little ceremony to sound the official start of the program. To welcome in the program, Elise Bremer Nei, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, will be speaking at the event.
Even before its official launch, Hanawald noted, the program has already received a fair amount of participation. All students are encouraged to participate, but they must register first.
“It’s been a lot of fun setting up. One great thing about Edgemont is the level of participation in the health and wellness program. The kids really like it so there’s a lot of natural enthusiasm.”