MECHANIC FALLS — Before the torch was lit Wednesday at Elm Street School’s opening ceremonies for the WinterKids Winter Games 2022, the students had already ice skated, thrown snowballs in the biathlon, and completed the sledding portion of the first week’s physical activity challenges.

Elm Street School, the town’s elementary school, is the only school in Androscoggin County competing in the statewide 5th Annual WinterKids Winter Games, a four-week series of challenges between Jan. 17 and Feb. 11 centering on outdoor winter activities incorporating nutrition, family time, and learning.

Not only are the games a positive way of getting kids outdoors and learning, but school leaders and students alike hope to gain a medal and funds for the school as they compete against 21 other schools. A gold medal earns $10,000, a silver $7,500 and a bronze receives $5,000.

Most importantly, however, according to Amy Jenkins, dean of students at Elm

Street School, is that students are offered a “fun way to try new things,” particularly outdoors, instead of “being on a device or tablet all day long.”

Jenkins said the games will hopefully form “healthy habits during the winter where we tend to kind of get sedentary.”


The weekly challenges are physical activity, nutrition, family engagement, and winter carnival.

Participation by the entire school community is necessary. Jenkins stressed participation is needed “beyond just the teaching staff — the custodian . . . kitchen staff, admin. (We’re) trying to get everyone involved.”

The effort to teach students about nutrition will motivated by 20 “sugar dollars” they will be given to spend. The idea is for them to buy as many healthy items as they can with the money, but the more sugar an item contains, the greater its cost in “sugar dollars.”

Family engagement week will involve a snowshoeing story walk, sledding, snowman building and a scavenger hunt.

Guest speakers during the four-week program will include a nutritionist/health coach and a hardcore gymnast who will demonstrate physical strength and agility.

WinterKids began in 1997 as part of the Ski Maine Association with goals that include fighting childhood obesity and increasing physical fitness among youth.

Maine Olympic Luger Julia Clukey and Seth Wescott, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the sport of snowboard cross, are on the WinterKids Advisory Board.

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