The Van Buren School District is celebrating the completion of its newest walking trails at Central and King elementary schools and at Freshman Academy.

Completed over the summer, the new trails, along with existing ones at Parkview and Tate Elementary, comprise VBSD’s trail system, which is designed to give individuals a safe place to exercise outdoors, according to VBSD Activities Administrator Drew Cone.

“They provide free and safe opportunities for our students, staff, families, and community to become physically active,” Cone said. “It allows them to get outdoors more and enjoy exercising by walking, jogging, strolling their children, riding bikes, etc.”

Both the new and existing trails are a quarter-mile long. King and Central’s measure six-feet wide and Freshman Academy’s spans eight feet across. All of the newly constructed trails have a concrete surface, while Parkview and Tate’s are made of asphalt.

Visitors to King school can also incorporate additional exercise during their walk by utilizing the various fitness equipment installed along the path.

“King provides a unique experience with five fitness stations, where people can perform upper and lower body strength and endurance exercises in between their walk or jog,” Cone said.

The trails system is an important component of the district’s overall wellness plan, which focuses on student and staff health. Van Buren is designated as a Coordinated School Health District by the Arkansas Department of Education.

Cone said the additional trails will help VBSD further promote the importance of physical activity among its students and staff, a key component of the CSH model.

Trails also will be open to the community during non-school hours, giving local residents easier access to a place for exercise and recreation.

“It’s our hope that the trails will help promote a culture in which families make fitness and healthy living a priority,” Cone said. “Kids who are healthy learn better and have a higher chance for success in school and life. We believe that the trails will benefit our students and staff and will also prove to be an asset to the community-at-large.”

Installation of the new trails was made possible by a partnership with city leaders. Central, King and Freshman Academy’s trails were funded through a Joint Use Agreement grant. Van Buren received the maximum amount allowed under the grant, $30,000. The funds come from the Arkansas Department of Education through Tobacco Excise Tax appropriations. Because JUA grants require the applicant to partner with a non-profit organization, VBSD coordinated with city officials during the process.

“We are very grateful to the City of Van Buren. Without their partnership, this wouldn’t be possible,” Cone said.

The two entities plan to build upon the success of the campus trails and pursue additional projects in the future.

“Be looking for more fitness trails coming soon," he said.