The Recorder – In intergenerational program, Northfield’s ‘Happy Feet’ walkers take on tiny recruits

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Published: 5/4/2022 11:38:54 PM

Modified: 5/4/2022 11:37:23 PM

NORTHFIELD — Life felt a little more normal for members of the Northfield Senior Center on Monday, as Northfield Elementary School kindergartners resumed their visiting tradition that was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.

Participants in the Senior Center’s “Happy Feet” walking program made their way to Northfield Elementary, where they met up with Ashley Fogle’s students in front of the school before escorting them down Main Street. Participants wore matching T-shirts and hats created by Silver Screen Design of Greenfield.

Back at the Senior Center, students explored the facility, shared snacks and conversations with the seniors, and watched nature programs.

Before the pandemic, Fogle would bring her students to the center on a regular basis to interact with the seniors, doing various activities like planting seeds, crafting cards and engaging in other art projects. Northfield Senior Center and Council on Aging Director Colleen Letourneau, who remarked that having such intergenerational experiences benefits everyone involved, opted to combine the traditional visits with the Massachusetts Council on Aging’s Walk Massachusetts Challenge, getting the seniors and students active together.

The Walk Massachusetts Challenge is a community-wide walking challenge that runs from May 1 to Oct. 31. People can choose one of four different challenges — 88 days of walking, 126.6 miles, 192 miles or 351 miles — and they will be entered into gift card drawings for making progress. As individuals walk, their local Council on Aging/Senior Center will also be entered into raffles to earn up to $1,000 in programming money. People over 60 are encouraged to register themselves for the challenge and anyone under 60 is able to sponsor a senior in their community.

The kindergartners, called the “Happy Little Feet” walkers, will also keep track of their activity during recess, according to Letourneau.

“Their teacher will log their days every week toward prizes for themselves and points” toward the Council on Aging, she explained.

To learn more about the Walk Massachusetts Challenge, visit

Reach Paul Franz at 413-772-0261, ext. 266 or

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