May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and a great time to renew your commitment to a healthy, active lifestyle. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activities Among Youth, youth need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day where they live, learn, and play. In addition to physical health benefits, regular activity provides cognitive health benefits as well. Research shows that when children are physically active, they achieve higher grades, record better attendance, and their behavior improves. Put simply, active kids do better.
I am always looking for information on expanding physical activities for our students. This past summer, I came across the Achilles Run to Learn Program. Developed in 1995 by Achilles International, the program consists of a series of physical and educational activities that integrate educational challenges and games with running, walking, rolling, or other forms of movement to encourage and motivate children to participate in regular physical activity.
It is based on a real 26.2 marathon, but done virtually. In a year-long gym activity, children do a number of laps each week. The laps are counted and converted into miles, and then charted as a 26.2 mile route on a map of their town. While the children are tackling the long-term accomplishment of completing the marathon, they are also realizing short-term achievements based on meeting weekly goals. The program goes far beyond the physical accomplishment of achieving their distance goals, however. It incorporates educational and physical activities as well.
I reached out to Achilles International to find out how we could become one of the 200+ schools in the U.S. participating. Their staff was very helpful and we were soon completing our application. Fast-forward nine months, and we have 123 students who have completed their first full marathon! Each student receives an Achilles t-shirt, medal, AND brand new running shoes! Best of all, this is all at no cost to our school.
Another opportunity happening at the BNI (Erie and Warren, PA) this summer is the Learn to Ride Bike Camp. For 4 consecutive Saturdays, students will work towards a checklist of independent bike riding skills, including: Stop with control using brake, turning right and left with wide turns, riding with only one hand, how to do a figure 8, hand signals, quick stops, how to pump tires and how to clean/oil the chain. Designed for children who have not been successful in learning to ride a 2-wheeler, this program is funded by the Dr. Gertrude Barber Foundation. For further information on how to enroll, call 878-5638.
It’s been a fun, active, and fit school year for the ELBS students and I look forward to what’s in store for next year!