Billie Stevenson Elementary Students Learn Importance of Physical Activity Through Marathon Kids
By Catherine Morris
Coach Lance Roth teaches Physical Education at Billie Stevenson Elementary in Rockwall ISD, just east of Dallas, Texas. When he learned about Marathon Kids, Roth recognized it as “a fantastic pathway to teach and encourage a healthy, positive lifestyle.” He saw the program as a way to give his students “a starting line to a lifetime sport”—running—that would help them stay on the path of fitness and good health into adulthood.
Coach Roth counts himself lucky to teach in a community where good citizenship is an important part of the community-wide values. “Our school is right in the middle of a master-planned community, and most families know each other,” he says. “Families at Billie Stevenson are very involved, and they take a very active interest in our students’ extra-curricular activities.”
When he decided to implement Marathon Kids at Billie Stevenson, Roth received full support. “I have an extremely supportive administration and parent base,” he says. “All the families are very supportive of our Marathon Kids initiative. They give me all the tools necessary to put every student in a position to succeed. I don’t face many challenges with this platform; my students are very self-motivated.”
Marathon Kids Gets Kids Moving
Roth has 175 second- through sixth-graders participating in his Marathon Kids run club. They meet up on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 7:00 AM, and run close to two miles each session.
The entire school of 760 students also utilizes Marathon Kids as a schoolwide platform in PE class. On “Moving Mondays,” the entire school runs together, every student covering at least three-quarters of a mile. Each runner has their own Marathon Kids ID card that scans their laps with the Marathon Kids Connect app.
“I use data from Marathon Kids to tailor future lessons and set students’ personal fitness zone goals. And we always celebrate growth, no matter how small or big.”
“The digital platform is very user friendly and parent-friendly,” says Coach Roth, “and it makes critical data collection extremely easy. It gives each student tangible results. I use data from Marathon Kids to tailor future lessons and set students’ personal fitness zone goals. And we always celebrate growth, no matter how small or big.”
Confidence Breeds Success, and Failure Is How We Learn
For Coach Roth’s run club, celebrating progress and milestones is a big part of staying motivated to run, even when it gets difficult. So is emphasizing teamwork. “My students are excited to run because we consider ourselves a team, and we lean on each other when running gets tough,” Roth says. “We have cultivated a very familial culture at Billie Stevenson, and that is all the motivation we need. We battle together.”
He also emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself as a runner and an athlete. “We believe success breeds confidence—not the other way around. I always put my students in a position to succeed, but if we fail, that’s fine. We are not afraid of failure here. That’s how we learn.”
Physical Activity Has Numerous Benefits for Kids and Adults
Since starting the Marathon Kids run club at Billie Stevenson, Coach Roth has seen his runners’ confidence grow. He has seen healthy development in his students on social and emotional levels as well as physically.
“My first year at Billie Stevenson was 2019, and we had an amazing running club of 65 students. Unfortunately, last year we could not have our running club due to the pandemic. This year, we have 175 students who come to school at 7:00 AM, in the dark, to run with their teammates, to become better all-around student athletes. They come to get better every day. To me, the sheer weight of that is most impactful.”
Physical activity is extremely important to Coach Roth, for himself as well as for his students. “It releases tension, it helps students become healthier, and it teaches teamwork—all major components of being happy and successful in life.”
He counts numerous benefits of the Marathon Kids program for his students. “The benefits are everywhere we look when we see our students,” he says, “especially after they have just run and are super tired. They know they have accomplished something—they can feel it, and they show pride in themselves.”