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Saunters Program – Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation

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Amy: Back when Saunters first started, it really was an idea from two volunteers, two teachers from the school district of Lodi, Chris McNeill and Luke Kloberdanz.

Chris: Luke and I came up with this idea. It was shortly after school finished and we thought what can we do with kids that can still get them that educational grounding that they need, but also not just be in a classroom? With Luke being the exceptional hiker, he thought, "What about Ice Age Trail?" And I looked at him, I thought, "Taking kids out on trail, huh?" He's like, "Yeah." And that's where it started. It literally started in his backyard thinking, how could we get kids engaged outside and moving? In order to get this started we had to jump through a lot of hoops. When you tell that you're gonna load up a bus with kids and take 'em all over the state and go on the Ice Age Trail, there's some apprehensions so we settled all their nerves. And then the biggest thing was the funding. Trying to figure out how we're gonna fund this. When we started the program, we wanted it to be free. So then we went and applied, Luke applied at the Sauk Prairie Health for their grant. I think that was his first grant he ever wrote, and that got us started. We wouldn't have been able to do it that year without that help. We had one bus and 30 students.

Amy: We now have over a thousand kids that partner with our Saunters program. We have over 6,000 kids in our Think Outside program, so it really has just taken on a wonderful, a wonderful life of its own and started with the school district of Lodi and it's turned into this, you know, long standing program with the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

Chris: We have to get kids outside. We have to get 'em moving. We have to get them exposed to the beautiful land that we have around us.

Brody: I got involved in Saunters, like going into fourth grade. It was really 'cause of, I was in Cub Scouts and we did a lot of hiking. It was fun. I think really a lot of the, like the high school mentors at the time. I enjoyed being with them and being with my friends just outside and enjoying it. Later in life you can bring it on your kids and you know how to do stuff and your experienced with it.

Mia: I like being outdoors a lot. We live in the country, so I like to go outside and walking, hiking is fun. I wanted to volunteer 'cause I like hanging out with kids and being in charge is fun. And I just like enjoying summer Saunters and I've been doing it for a while, and I like the adults here too, so I thought it'd be fun.

Brody: Thank you, Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation for sponsoring Saunters.

Amy: We are so appreciative of the support that the Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation has given Saunters. They have been involved since the beginning and they're still involved, and it's so important to have supporters like that to understand our mission and understand our program.

Chris: And we really want to thank Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation for supporting Saunters for getting kids out every year, and moving and showing them how important exercise is in their life and how simple it can be. So thank you for your support all these years. We could not do this without you.

Mia: Thank you so much, Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation.

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