To provide a platform for free elementary school running programs that will encourage and develop youth fitness.
Provide detailed workouts and a Track in the Box supply kit for schools to execute an after school running program led by volunteer coaches. Program materials are supplied at no cost. T-shirts for every student every season are provided. For low income schools a financial stipend is provided to coaches who assist.
- Complete program booklets that include warm up and cool down stretches, running form lessons for kids and coaches, and running games and strategies.
- Sport log pages to track miles accumulated by each student
- Track in the Box supply kit with items such as cones, whistles, stop watch, balls, and jump rope.
- Free training seminar for volunteers or teachers who will lead programs.
- Project Fit running program provides an emphasis on running games and challenge courses that include T&F themes such as running, throwing, long jump, etc. The program includes warm up and cool down drills and reviewing proper running technique. In addition, kids would be asked to keep a training log to track mileage. Walking or running counts towards the mileage as long as an adult verifies the mileage. This promotes families to get exercise together and encourages kids to walk to school.
- Schools would have the option to identify a parent volunteer to lead an after school program or a school could identify one school employee to lead it during the school day.
- Financial stipends for “lead” coaches are provided for underfunded schools.
Jan & Pat Sweeney, owners of Fleet Feet Sports Sacramento, have supported several local elementary schools with free after-school running programs for years. Having seen the amazing accomplishments of the children in the programs and knowing that young children are not getting the amount of exercise they require, the Sweeney's launched Project Fit to help other area schools who have reduced physical education programs and recess times.
The lack of fitness is a leading problem in increased childhood obesity and the development of diabetes.According to the U.S. Center of Disease Control, in the next 15 years, Type 2 diabetes in adults will quadruple. Diabetes in youth is now considered one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S. In under privileged communities, children have the added burden of seeing no way out of their social situation and rarely get an opportunity to develop their potential physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Running programs promote fitness, discipline, team work, and responsibility. It helps kids feel good about themselves and it encourages others to join in the fun. Frequently when parents volunteer at the program, they become encouraged to increase their fitness and join their children in developing good health habits. This develops a love of fitness and sports that is dwindling in our current culture. The current President’s Physical Fitness Program has had to reduce its requirements from a generation ago!
Fleet Feet Sports stores nationwide sponsor the No Boundaries program targeting adults who want to learn to become athletic. In 2009, the No Boundaries program had over 10,000 participants. Why wait until they have developed poor habits when we can influence their behaviors while they are young?
A reporter for National Public Radio recently interviewed elementary school administrators from Woodland Elementary School in Kansas, Mo where they expanded physical education to push student heart rates daily. Beyond the physical benefits they’ve seen, they saw aggressive behavior decrease and in-school suspensions drop a whopping 60%. John Ratey, a Harvard professor in clinical psychiatry, explains that exercise increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex. This inhibits the impulsivity coming from the emotional part of the brain helping kids think before they act. Research in adults has shown exercise can boost blood flow, which can lead to improved focus and attention. Ratey says researchers are just beginning to nail down the benefits in children.
For those interested in following what could be possible, there can be no better example than the Be Change program, a Sacramento non-profit community outreach program. They established a running program at one of northern California’s poorest performing schools and with the support of a handful of volunteers, graffiti has been eliminated on campus, they took 50 children to the 2.62 Kaiser C.I.M marafun run (Fleet Feet provided 4 coaches for the season and on race day), provided food for children going without, and obtained (through sponsors such as Fleet Feet and New Balance) running shoes, backpacks and t-shirts for all 50 children on race day.