A successful before-school program at Glendaal Elementary School is stepping up its efforts to get more children into running.
The ultimate goal is for the students to take part in this fall’s Stockade-athon.
For the past few years, the school has had a before-school running club for students in grades three through five. Now, school officials are expanding that to the first and second grades with the help of a $1,500 grant from ING, a financial services company.
Physical education teacher Carol Atkins said she found out about the grant at a physical education teachers conference last spring and decided to apply.
“I wanted to get the kids to think about running in a race,” she said.
Glendaal was one of 50 schools from 24 states across the United States to receive the grant as part of a partnership with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The goal is to introduce kindergarten through eighth-grade students to the health benefits of running.
About 50 children are participating in the club, which meets Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 8:30 a.m.
The grant will help expand the program by paying for necessary equipment such as pedometers, which will measure how many steps the students have taken. For every 10,000 steps, they will earn a token that they can wear on their sneaker or clothing, according to Atkins. Other prizes will be T-shirts.
The culminating event will be running in the race. The grant will help pay the $5 entry fee for the children, who will be running a one-mile segment of the race.
Atkins said the school’s efforts to promote running will help students understand that fitness matters.
“This helps to give them a positive message about why fitness is important and they have control and can get in better shape.”
Improving their fitness also teaches the children about setting goals, according to Atkins.
Running will give them more energy and help their brains function better, according to Atkins. “We’re trying to impress upon them that if they exercise, they’ll do better in the classroom,” she said.
Atkins also pointed out that the district is among the schools that comply with the state mandates for the amount of physical education classes.
During a recent physical education class, students were running around playing a game of tag where when they were tagged, they had to do five jumping jacks.
The schools are also participating in the Fuel Up and Play 60 program, which is a partnership between the NFL where schools commit to 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Samantha Totten, 6, said she enjoys running. “It’s fun. I run in my house,” she said.
Arthur Bourdeau, 6, said he would be glad to participate in the club. He enjoys running and was not deterred by colliding with another student during a recent game of tag in gym class.
“It kind of like tickled a little bit,” he said.
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