Elementary Running Clubs

Elementary Running Clubs
Posted on 01/24/2020
Every week, elementary students around the district gather in groups to run and log miles, before and after school. The programs may look a bit different from building to building but the foundation remains the same--building healthy relationships and healthy living.

Many USD 345 schools previously used Girls on the Run (GOTR), a nonprofit girls empowerment program, as their framework for a running club but saw an opportunity to expand and reach more kids when GOTR was discontinued. With the district’s initiative to get more kids involved in extracurricular activities, elementary running clubs provide an excellent way for kids to connect outside of the classroom. “I want to reach every child who loves to run and those who just want to participate in a club, but may not have an opportunity to do so,” said Northern Hills Running Club (NHRC) co-sponsor Christy Ketron. This year, all five USD 345 elementary schools have running clubs in place, led by passionate and energetic sponsors, like Mrs. Ketron.

Logan Elementary’s running club is in its third year. The students named their group Girls Running for President and are led by Christy Cox. “Our group focuses on female empowerment, building positive relationships, healthy lifestyle choices, and building leadership skills,” said Cox. “It’s so
fun to see them grow, interact, and become a team.”

West Indianola Elementary has two running clubs--one for girls (Cardinal Cruisers) and one for both girls and boys (Mile Markers). Shelbie Lutz and Amber Campidilli run both clubs at the school. “Amber and I have worked to create a program that is empowering young ladies in 3rd-6th grades. These girls learn to deal with the everyday stresses they encounter in school, extra-curricular activities, and at home. They also are practicing these skills while training to run a 5K by the end of each season,” said Lutz. Mile Markers was created this year and is the school’s first attempt to create a running club for both girls and boys. They have over 200 students enrolled in the morning program. “It is a belief of mine that active students truly do better in their everyday activities and tasks, and this is my ultimate goal for this club,” said Lutz. “Students are creating meaningful friendships with peers at all different grade levels. It is so much fun listening to them encourage each other. It is my intention to continue to grow this program to include as many students as possible by offering more sessions throughout the school year, because healthy students are happy students.”

Elmont Elementary also saw the opportunity to expand their running club. “As a parent, with daughters who participated in the GOTR program through the years, I was disappointed to hear about the program being discontinued. So, I secured an outstanding coach (Marci Solander), presented a proposal to start a running club at Elmont; and with the support of principal Joel Wells, the Elmont Bobcat Running Club (EBRC) was born,” said Elmont’s co-sponsor Leland Spencer. “The kids are having a blast at EBRC. In starting this program, we opened it up to boys and girls. In doing so, we have nearly tripled the average participation we were seeing from the GOTR.”

North Fairview Elementary began their running program in 2011 and the group continues to flourish. They meet once a week, after school, for 45 minutes. “We hope students have a good time interacting with each other while learning that exercise can be fun,” said running club sponsor Christel Bartley.

Elementary Running ClubWith the addition and expansion of elementary running clubs, the district saw a huge increase in participation at this year’s Fall Into Fitness 5K, a 5K fun run that is sponsored by the USD 345 Wellness Council. “We had a record breaking 340+ participants,” exclaimed Director of Elementary Education Rebecca Kramer. “It was so fun and encouraging to see parents joining their kids at the district’s annual 5K. It means a lot to see families supporting our teachers and volunteers who put in the time and effort to improve the mental and physical health of our students. With so much excitement around running, we’re even looking to add another 5K at the end of the school year for our elementary runners.”

Seaman High School Cross Country knows the benefits of running and is excited to see this new development in our elementary schools. “Running clubs in Seaman elementary schools are an overwhelmingly positive development,” said cross country coach Luke Wiens. “The most important thing is that this provides a pathway to healthy, active lifestyles for more of our USD 345 students and families. If a few of them end up running at SHS and having success, that would be a pretty cool side benefit!”

Getting kids involved in physical activity is extremely important to their health and development. “Getting your blood pumping can boost your ability to focus,” said Jenny Crowell, Director of Nursing for USD 345. “Physical activity can help keep children’s brains active and ready to learn, so running clubs are physically, academically, and emotionally beneficial to elementary students in our schools.”

Elementary running clubs will continue to look for more opportunities to expand their programs and community partnerships. Some have even reached out to the high school cross country team to form a type of mentor-style approach. “The positive connections that students form with the volunteers of the clubs are really valuable, and that would go double for any high school or middle school-aged mentors that we may add in the future.” said Wiens.

To find out how your child can become involved in a running club, please contact your school’s office.