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Programs to get children involved in running

programs to get kids involved with running

These days, kids don’t have to wait until they’re old enough to try out for the middle school track team to take up running. Several programs exist at the local and national levels to introduce younger children to the sport.

High-profile national running programs for kids include the following:

Girls on the Run
The mission of Girls on the Run is as follows: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” So much more than a running program, Girls on the Run boosts young girls’ self-esteem. The 10-12 week after school program culminates in a 5K race, where each girl runs with an adult “running buddy” who encourages her along the way. In 2013, there were 212 local chapters of Girls on the Run that served over 138,000 girls. The Girls on the Run program serves 3rd-5th graders, and Girls on Track is designed for 6th-8th grade girls.

Search here to find a Girls on the Run council in your area. If there isn’t a local chapter, here’s how you can start one.

Morning Mile
Morning Mile is a before school run/walk program that encourages children to be active and have fun with friends before the school day starts. Currently held in over 150 schools, Morning Mile is about “ensuring kids start each day in an active healthy way!” Kids show up at school a little early on assigned days and complete a mile before school. Music plays during the mile, and children receive incentives to keep up with the program.

Search here to learn if your child’s school participates in the Morning Mile program. Find out more about Morning Mile here, including how to bring the program to your child’s school.

Kids Run the Nation
In 1986, the Road Runners Club of America started Kids Run the Nation. The goal of the program is to “help establish a locally managed, youth running program in every grade school in America.” Kids Run the Nation is an 8-10 week running program – held at schools or after school children’s programs such as Boys & Girls Club or the YMCA — for children in kindergarten through 6th grade. Kids meet several times per week and do at least 30 minutes of running activities.

Get your copy of the Kids Run the Nation Program Guide here to learn more about bringing the program to your area.

There are countless children’s running programs at the local level as well. For example, New York Road Runners has the Mighty Milers program. The Mighty Milers is a running program designed to get kids in pre-K through eighth grade moving to prevent illness and obesity and promote self-esteem. Throughout the program, children set goals and earn rewards for covering certain distances and meeting set milestones. 

Are your children involved in running? Is there a local kids’ running program in your area?

Written by Jen Matz

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