St. Vrain schools challenge students to run 100 miles
By Whitney Bryen - Times-Call community reporter
Fourth grader Mario Nunez stares straight ahead as he makes another lap around the basketball court at Mead Elementary School Tuesday.
Mario, 9, is picturing a gold medal hanging on his bedroom wall — the driving force behind his dedication.
"It would be my first medal," Mario said. "I keep running to get a medal."
Mario is one of about 100 kids at Mead Elementary School participating in the 100-Mile Club, a program that launched at 15 St. Vrain Valley schools this fall.
About 1,000 students at elementary and kindergarten through eighth-grade schools across the district are participating in the program, which challenges students to run 100 miles by the end of the school year.
The program was adopted by the district as part of a $1.4 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to boost physical activity.
Paige Jennings, physical activity grant coordinator for the district, said the money will support opportunities for movement during and outside of the school day and provide new recess equipment to encourage increased physical activity and subsequent improvement in the classroom.
"The broad picture is that research and the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) supports a comprehensive physical activity program as a way to improve student performance in the classroom," Jennings said.
Next month, about 400 faculty and staff will receive materials to help boost physical activity in classes, Jennings said. Bean bags, juggling scarves and floor mats with movement instructions will help faculty and staff incorporate movement during the school day, she said.
Before winter break, the district will bring new, smaller recess equipment to the schools with the aim of increasing student engagement, Jennings said. Studies show that items like footballs, soccer balls, jump ropes, Frisbees, hula hoops encourage movement, she said.