Participation in a walking challenge like the one that River’s Way is running using MapMyWalk can provide a big boost to special education classes during COVID-19 times.  The MapMyWalk app can be downloaded on most any phone. Once installed, the app records walks that individuals take.  The app provides a map of the walk, it includes the number of steps taken and distance covered and it records the time taken to complete the walk.  Teachers can look back and see the daily statistics for each student over an extended period of time.  The MapMyWalk app can be used in in-person classes with teachers, aids and students using a mix of phones to record walks. It can also be used by students when they are doing remote learning.  Students can walk outside or inside of their homes or classrooms.


Goal centered walking, practiced on a regular basis, brings much needed structure and a sense of purpose to the lives of people with differing abilities.  In many cases, members of this population end up living sedentary lives at home with few opportunities to build social connections and to participate in physical activities.  By participating in a walking challenge using MapMyWalk, people with differing abilities become part of a large network of groups who are committed to walking.  They experience the same benefits that walking brings to the general population.  For people with differing abilities, the health benefits that come from walking are critical since nearly 50% of people with differing abilities get no physical activity and people in this population are three times more likely to contract chronic diseases at an earlier age.  One of the key words in education when it comes to working with people with differing abilities is self determination.  Goal centered walking builds self determination capacities and experiences that have an overflow impact in areas of life outside of walking.


The River’s Way Walking Challenge is a highly effective educational tool that teachers can use and adapt to the needs of their classes.  Here are some reasons for classes to participate in the challenge:

  1. It promotes physical activity.

  2. It encourages students to follow directions, rules and guidelines.

  3. It connects students to larger communities.

  4. It provides motivation and support for walking.

  5. It teaches workforce skills including staying on task, encouraging others, following directions and staying positive

  6. It teaches students how to use technology in setting goals and recording walks.

  7. It teaches students how to set goals and how to follow through on goals

  8. It develops teamwork and a sense of common purpose.

  9. It provides a platform for basic academic work including math, journal writing and reading

  10. It breaks up the day.


Interested? Here are the steps to get your class involved:

  1. The teacher should sign up for the River’s Way Walking Challenge on our web site and view the video that describes how to download and use the MapMyWalk app.

  2. The teacher should practice using the app for a week or two so that they become familiar with its use.

  3. The teacher should view the River’s Way video on how to set up a class group on MapMyWalk.

  4. The teacher should have aids and students download the app onto their phones.

  5. The entire class should participate in a Zoom session with our Program Director, Matt Kyle. The teacher can arrange for this session by contacting Matt at

  6. Teachers should communicate with parents to let them know about the program.

  7. The class should determine where it is going to walk. The class should be prepared to do outside walks , walks inside their homes or classrooms, in- school walks  or Walk at Home sessions on YouTube.

  8. We recommend that each class walk for a minimum of 30 minutes each school day.

  9. Students with phones can record their walks on MapMyWalk.  Aids and teachers can walk with students who do not have phones and record their walks. Another option would be to have one teacher or aid record a class walk for the entire group.

  10. All walks are automatically recorded for each student.  At some point after each walk, the teacher can use a smart board to review the walks that each student took using the MapMyWalk web site.  This review session provides an opportunity to discuss progress on goals.

  11. Matt will meet biweekly (with the possibility of more frequent meetings) with each class via Zoom. Matt will also be a member of each class group so he will be able to see the walking records of each student.  River’s Way will also assign 2-3 Game Changers to each class and they will participate in the Zoom meetings. Game Changers are young adults with differing abilities who are River’s Way volunteers.  Game Changers are regular walkers so they set an example and provide feedback.



Contact Matt Kyle, the River’s Way Program Director, at if you are interested in working with MapMyWalk. We want to get more people in Bristol walking. Walking is good for you, good for your students and good for our community!