The sun rises and students lace up their shoes, head out the door and begin to run, stride after stride along the dirt-laden path.
Being active is a large part of a child’s life, and last spring, to help establish healthy habits, Maria Peters the physical education teacher at Fremont Elementary began a running club for her students.
“Running is my passion, and I just want to instill in these kids a love to be active,” Peters said.
Active they are. Starting in August of this year, 225 kindergarten through sixth-grade students, about 60 percent of the school, signed up for the 100-Mile Club.
The program is designed to teach students the importance of being active and healthy by challenging them to run, walk or jog 100 miles over the course of the school year.
The program, which meets around Fremont Elementary School’s outdoor track every Tuesday and Friday mornings at 7, has offered fun and a sense of purpose for the students.
“They are proud of themselves, it’s an accomplishment,” Peters said, “For some kids, academics aren’t their thing, and they wake up Tuesday and Friday mornings so excited — it’s the reason they want to come to school.”
For students like sixth-grader Trevor Skrine, Fremont’s first boy to reach the 25-mile mark, the club has helped him realize running is his passion.
“I like running, I’m faster than my other classmates,” Trevor said prior to Friday’s run, which marked his 50 mile. “I’m so excited, I’ll keep on going to 75,” he said.
Along with the students, around 10 Fremont staff members, as well as 10 parents are active as volunteers or participants in the program. Without the help of the volunteers, Peters said the program wouldn’t be as successful.
“On a typical day we get over 100 kids,” she said, “The volunteers help take care of the kids, they punch their cards, note who reaches the 25-50 mile marks — they completely donate their time.”
The Active Schools Acceleration Program Acceleration Grant (ASAP), which helps 1,000 schools nationwide fund programs, such as the 100-mile running club has helped fund the program by providing materials, T-shirts, and funding to kick-start the program.
For Kira Taormina, a first-grader and the first girl to run 25 miles, this program lets her do her thing.
“I like it, it’s my stuff to do,” she said as she went to run her next mile around the track.