From a casual stroll, to a racing pace, many Nikiski North Star Elementary School students have ditched the usual lunchtime playground activities for a few laps around the soccer green.
The North Star Boys & Girls Club site has been offering the new running program for the first time during the 2015-2016 school year, held at lunch time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — weather permitting — for all interested students, not just club members.
Kids record the number of times they run the field’s perimeter, and every five laps equates to one mile. Only a month into the school year, 593 total miles have been run through the program.
“I love being able to have offer more opportunities to be physical,” said Nikiski Unit Director Shanette Wik.
Miles are recorded on personal cards, but also on a large poster encased inside the school. The diagram is now completely covered in vibrantly, colorful feet donning each runner’s name. The feet move the further the student travels.
Kevin Love and Ryder Maguire are leading with 19 miles already under their belts.
Wik said the club’s program, which began this summer, was inspired by the Girls On The Run ran by North Star teachers Adrianne Bostic and Kristie Cotroneo last spring.
“There was a lot of interest (last year),” Cotroneo said. “It was a lot of fun and helped the girls gain confidence…that inspired other kids…the boys wanted to do it too, so its really helpful to be able to include everyone (this year).”
Controneo said her kids often come to class in the afternoon “so stoked” about their lunchtime laps. Many are out there running everyday, she said.
The daily runs fit into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s nationwide Healthy Habits program, which consists of three components, Wik said. Members are taught and encouraged to learn good nutrition, have regular physical activity and improve their well being, she said.
It is best to start learning those habits earlier, Wik said. It seems to be working.
“’I love running now,’ I have heard that one a couple of times,” Wik said.
Fifth grader Braydon Whiteside said he was already a “running person,” before he took up with the new program. He said doing laps is a good alternative to soccer, which he does everyday.
“It’s my kind of sport,” Whitside said. “I kind of rule at it.”
Whiteside has already ran 15 miles this year. His tactic is slow and steady.
His classmate and fellow club member second grader Sarah Brown said she starts with a fast dash and walks when she needs to. Brown has completed about three miles this year.
“I don’t do it every day,” Brown said. “I like the fun of it. I like getting the exercise. I feel stronger and have more energy.”
Whiteside and Brown both want to keep running through out the year.
Wik said the last day for the fall program will be Sept. 30, but will definitely start up again in spring when it’s warm enough.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org