Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walk on Stilts Day

July 27, 2010 is

Walk on Stilts Day.

 The perfect way to celebrate this holiday is to learn the history of stilts and to make your own recycled cans version of stilts.

You don't see a lot of stilt walkers. Usually they are found in parades and at circuses.
Stilt-walking is an ancient art that only requires a pair of stilts and lots of practice.
Stilt-walking is said to have originated in Landes, France. Shepherds took up stilt-walking, as early as the 1800's,  as a way to not only save time getting to their scattered flocks but also to navigate areas that were sometimes treacherous.

According to Wikipedia:
Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a distance above the ground. Walking stilts are poles equipped with steps for the feet to stand on, or straps to attach them to the legs, for the purpose of walking while elevated above a normal height. In flood plains, and on beaches or unstable ground, buildings are often constructed on stilts to protect them from damage by water, waves or shifting soil or sand. Stilts have been used for many hundreds of years.

A few fun and amazing Stilt walking records
Most people to simultaneously walk on stilts: 1908. Doug Hunt and the North Park Collegiate HS students organized a mass stilt walk of 625 people walking 100 metres (328 ft) on 12” peg stilts.

Tallest stilts walked on: 56 feet 6 inches. Roy Maloy of Australia, while wearing an overhead safety wire, took five independent steps on 56 ft. 6 inch stilts weighing 50.6 lbs. each.

Longest stilt walk: 24 hours, 76.17 miles (122.58 km). Zdenek Jiruše of Czechoslovakia covered a distance of 76.17 miles (122.58 km) on stilts within 24 hours on 12 June 1992 in Pelhřimov.

 Why try stilt or can walking?

Because walking on Stilts/Cans builds a child's:
  • Balance and Coordination Skills and
  • Their Sense of Achievement and Self-esteem
 You can try you hand at making wooden stilts:
Stiltwalker.com has interesting information on stilts and stilt walking.  
But the  easiest way to start "stilt" walking is to make Tin Can Stilts.
 you'll need:
2 - one pound coffee cans or juice cans or even paint cans
String or rope or yarn plaited into a braid
A screwdriver or awl
Colorful electrical or duct tape, stickers (the foam one are fun)

  1. Turn the cans upside down, so that the open end is touching the ground (if using paint cans ,put the lids on them and use the handles to tie the rope onto)
  2. Then, use a screwdriver or awl to make two holes in each can, one on each side. (An adult should do this step.)
  3. String a piece of rope through the holes, and tie off the ends inside the can.This is a "handle" for your child to hold onto. It should be approximately waist high) 
  4. Decorate the cans
  5. Walk on your stilts

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