By Steve Hansen
Former QCS Managing Editor
On Saturday I joined a group of kids and adults to paint shoeprints on downtown Tucumcari sidewalks.
This was to mark the path of the “Rail Trail,” in preparation for its grand opening at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Rail Depot downtown.
The Rail Trail is the first of what we hope will be a half-dozen walking trails in Tucumcari.
The idea of the walking trails is to encourage people to use them to reduce obesity, leading to less diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Well over half of our adults are overweight or obese. Up to one-fifth of our teenagers may be obese. One-third of our third-graders and one-fourth of our kindergartners are either overweight or obese.
To paint the shoeprints, we engaged the services of the local Robotics Club. This club, according to adviser Michael Bilopavlovich, (generally known as “Mr. B”), comprises about 20 kids ranging from age 8 to high school who have an interest in building robots.
Mr. B meets with them after school to help them build machines that can mimic human functions on command. They use Lego robot kits, but, Mr. B says, this is their first year. In a week, they are traveling to Albuquerque to test their prowess against other clubs.
Our group, the Fitness and Nutrition Committee of the Quay County Health Council, and the Robotics Club receive private and government funds.
The Health Council committee uses funding from Presbyterian Health Services (Trigg Hospital) and the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Oregon, which studied obesity in rural communities nationwide. Tucumcari’s walking trails are among the solutions from that study.
The Robotics Club is able to use some Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) funds through Mesalands Community College, where Mr. B teaches and helps administer some computer systems. The students also pay a fee to be in the club.
Both clubs, however, rely mostly on volunteers bent on helping Tucumcari become stronger and more hopeful.
There are quite a few other such efforts going on in town, and it’s good to see that our community is finding bootstraps that can withstand pulling.
Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at: