How to start an Elementary School Runner's Club
Why we started a Runner's Club
Physical education in elementary schools is non-existent. Budget cuts have limited physical education to two days a week. If the children are not athletic, the weekly schedule for activity is not enough. Obesity in children is rising at an alarming rate.
One school was so concerned about the lack of physical activity they enlisted the help of parents to create, organize and monitor a running program. Now in its third year, it is going strong and growing. More and more children are involved. The other school in the district will be implementing the same program.
Funding for the gifts comes from the community and local businesses. Even with a small donation of $25.00, they get their name on a T-shirt that the children earn as one of the milestone gifts. Provide them with the school's non-profit letter so that it is tax-deductible. Setting up a program is relatively easy.
Simple way to track laps
These are what we used to count laps. We marked them so no one could bring in their own although our kids were very honest.
Create a plan
The school administration does not have the time or resources to create a running club. It is up to the parents to make it work. School support is required. Make an appointment with the principal and administrator. Create a written plan that spells out all the details.
The plan needs to include the following areas:
* Where the children will run
* The length of a lap
* Time allotted for running
* Milestones and gifts
* How the laps will be monitored
*Who will monitor the laps
*Creating a logo for the shirt
*Planning assemblies for awarding certificates and gifts
*Teacher and staff responsibilities
Implement the Program
* The playground area around the school measured one-sixth of a mile and was the measure for a "lap". Make sure that the area is free of rocks and holes.
* Establish a starting line and as each child returned to the line, they received a "stick". Popsicle sticks were marked the name of the runner's club to prevent sticks appearing from home.
* Schedule parents to monitor both recess periods. Children run only at first recess. Parent's should arrive at the school 15-minutes early to setup.
* Children will lose the sticks or drop them. Decide on a replacement policy before beginning.
Processes for Tracking the Progress
* Children return to the classroom with their sticks.
* Teachers have the option of having the children place their sticks in pre-marked baggies with their names or tallying the sticks and writing the totals on a list provided by the parents.
* In the envelopes provided by the parents, teachers returned the baggies or tally sheets and loose sticks to the office on a weekly drop-off date.
* A parent collected the envelopes each week.
* The child's weekly total was posted into an excel spreadsheet.
* The sticks were recycled.
Ideas for prizes
Bright and colorful works best. They stand out from the boring yellow pencils.
Something as simple as these bottles make great rewards. The first year we had a budget so we had the bottles personalized with the school name. After that, we were on our own and switched to the BPA free bottles. Either way, the kids loved them.
Awards and Gifts
* Set milestones and gifts for each milestone. Buy and decide gifts based on the budget. Here are some examples.
40 laps - a certificate and a pencil
80 laps - a certificate and a pen
120 laps - a certificateand a button that says 20 miles
180 laps - a certificate and a t-shirt that can also be used as a spirit shirt. Business that donated to the program will have their names and a thank-you on the back of the shirt.
* Milestones will exceed the examples above.
* Set a cutoff date a week before the assembly. Tally the results and print out the certificates. Group them by class and grade and give them to the principal. Continue to log in the laps for the next month.
* It is important to award the certificates and gifts at the monthly assembly. The children receive praise in front of their peers and it encourages other children to join in.
Great way to get the kids to exercise
Would a running club work for your school?
1st Year Newsletter Sent Home to Parents
The program was a success!
There were many benefits from the program. One child who started overweight, not only lost weight but found he loved running. That led him to join soccer where he is a star player. The most determined child was able to run 8 laps in the 15-minute period. He also ran 147 miles during the first year. While the Runner's Club will not solve the problem of obesity, children are having fun and exercising without realizing it. What could be better than that?