For healthy kids
at Lee Elementary School of Technology and World Studies, going for morning runs is just a part of their curriculum. The Tampa Tribune reports every morning the more than 250 students who attend the Tampa, Florida, school run laps through a rainbow-colored balloon arch, getting handed a coffee stirrer each time they complete a lap.
The stirrers are meant to help kids keep track of how many laps they have completed in a single day in order to measure their improvements and their possibilities of earning a prize, the news source reports. Although the activity is run before school, the majority of students enrolled make sure to get to class early in order to take part in the program, which is run by both facility and parent volunteers.
Robin Hewitt, the school's principal, supports the program, as she believes it helps kids focus better throughout the day while teaching them how exercise helps their bodies thrive.
"We want to do heart, mind, body and soul," Hewitt told the publication. "We want them to be more aware of their bodies and what it takes totally to be a good person."
Kids run as many laps as possible from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. - 16 laps equals one mile. Youngsters keep track of their progress using the stirrers and receive prizes like necklaces once they reach the five-mile mark. Charms in the shape of sneakers are then handed out for each additional five miles the students run, with a special prize given out for every 100 miles.
Helping children stay fit during the school day is a great way to keep them focused while also encouraging them to get in the 60 minutes of recommended exercise. The National Wildlife Federation reports kids who are active in nature tend to be less stressed and anxious. They also typically perform better in school than their peers who spend more free time indoors.
Although the adults at Lee Elementary believe the program is beneficial, it's the kids who enjoy the act most, The Tampa Bay Tribune reports. Students Lanah Weaver and Imani Christian, both 10 years old, love the early morning activity.
"I'm ready to run," Weaver told the news outlet. "I run when I walk home so I can get exercise."
Christian added, "Running is a good exercise if you are mad or stressed, exercise is really fun."