WEST PORTSMOUTH — Walking can be a good release of stress.
One area teacher went above and beyond and began walking to earn and award for her school while many have spent time throughout the pandemic indoors.
Kristie Copley, Librarian at Portsmouth West HS, posted to the school’s Facebook, “Portsmouth West High School teacher Mrs. Leah Blevins earned top honors after being named one of six ‘regional stepper’ winners and earned $2,000 for health and wellness efforts in the Washington-Nile School District. OHSAA, partnering with the Health Action Council, recently hosted a two-week Step-It-Up Wellness Challenge for Ohio schools. Superintendents were given the opportunity to nominate a district representative, and Mr. Tony Bazler knew Mrs. Blevins would be the perfect candidate when he saw her walking the campus during lunch.”
Blevins began walking in July and Washington-Nile Local Schools Superintendent Tony Bazler saw her doing so when school started later in the fall.
Blevins didn’t have as much time to walk when school officially began in August, so she started walking the school on her lunch period. Bazler stopped to ask if she was wearing a step-tracking device.
The answer was yes and the two proceeded to enter her into the competition.
When Blevins received the information regarding the Step-It-Up Wellness Challenge, she was excited to get the chance to walk to benefit her school.
“Oh my goodness, I have to do this now, I’ve got to put forth some effort,” Blevins said. “My goal was 10,000 steps. I told my husband I’m gonna up my goal since it’s a completion, to 20,000. After the first day, there was a lady who had 80,000 steps in one day. I said well I’m not going to win, but I’m going to have to up it to at least 40,000 steps.”
Some close to Blevins would walk with her on her journey, including her own children. A couple of teachers would walk with her in nearby Friendship on Saturdays.
“So I started walking, I got up at 5:00 a.m. I would walk a mile before school and I would walk during my planning period and the gym teacher would walk with me and during my lunch, I would walk and the history teacher would walk with me,” Blevins said. “In my classroom, I would walk back and forth in front of the board, while I was teaching as much as I could without being a huge distraction. Then when school was out, I would walk in the building around the hallways and sometimes after dark I would be walking. I’m competitive, I always say I’m not, but I am. I kept thinking, I’ve got to at least try. I just didn’t want to be last and what do you know, I came out with the $2,000 prize.”
Bazler told Blevins she could choose what the prize money was spent on, something that would benefit the school district.
Blevins decided the best use for the money that would benefit the students would be on water fountains with refillable bottle fountains included.
Blevins said, “I’m still walking, I walk on my lunch period every day and my family and I still walk every evening. My kids and I walked for breast cancer awareness in a 5K challenge during the month of October. I did it twice, once by myself and then once with them to raise money for breast cancer.”
Blevins has been teaching for eight years, starting at Minford and then later to Portsmouth West where she resides.
Blevins concluded, “After that first day, I was kind of discouraged, but I tell my kids and students, you don’t have to be the best, but you just have to do your best. That kept playing in my head over and over — I might not win, but I want to know when I go to bed at night, at least I gave it my best. That was my motivation the entire time, just do the best you can.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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