Larry Chauvin has taught PE for the past eight years at Casis Elementary School in Austin, Texas. He has also been a Marathon Kids coach at Casis for 15 years, ever since he began working there as a classroom teacher. “I am lucky enough to teach in a district that supports Marathon Kids in all elementary schools,” he says, “so we are proud members of Austin ISD.” He is also active with Marathon Kids as a volunteer for the TAG! Level Up steering committee, and has played an important role in developing the outdoor games festival which is coming to Austin in April 2020.
Coach Larry’s love of running began when he started teaching at Casis. “I was someone who was active,” he says, “but I considered being active as doing a few push-ups at night. A parent at my school invited me out for a jog, and three miles later, I was in pain and had no idea what I was doing.”
A week later, the same parent invited Coach Larry on another run, this time for four miles. Soon, he started to enjoy running and the challenge of meeting new distance and time goals. Over time, he dropped 30 pounds, changed his diet and started running 5K and 10K races. Now, he says, “I have ten marathons under my belt! It was such a change for me, and really helped me on my path to change from a classroom teacher to a PE teacher.”
BEING ACTIVE IS A WAY OF LIFE AT CASIS
At Casis, Coach Larry says, “running and being healthy and active is our way of life. Students love to walk or bike to school, we always allow for brain breaks and recess time, families participate in fun runs, and we know the importance of a healthy diet. We also know having a sweet or two is okay. Moderation is the key!”
His Marathon Kids run club, called the Casis Running Club, has about 350 runners ranging from kindergarteners to fifth-graders. As part of the district’s wellness initiative, Casis students run with their classroom teachers for ten minutes each school day. Some teachers print out logs for each student and have them track their own miles, while others keep a classroom log. Most classrooms run their 10 minutes on days when they don’t have PE, but some teachers love running laps as a brain break and make sure to get their classes outside daily.
MANTRA: MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE
Coach Larry was a classroom teacher for his first seven years at Casis, before switching over to teaching Physical Education. “As a classroom teacher, it was my job to keep track of students’ miles. Now, as a PE teacher, I get to be in charge of the entire campus completing their Marathon Kids log and living an active lifestyle.” In ten minutes of jogging, he says, typically 60% of the class will complete a full mile.
“Movement is medicine” is one of his favorite mantras. “Students love to run at my school,” he says, “and Marathon Kids has really helped encourage this excitement.” The students find intrinsic motivation in their run club, and Coach Larry and the other Casis teachers also find ways to keep the children engaged. “Most kids are running to beat their old times, but we also recognize our top three runners from each grade level during our fun run week.”
In order to keep things fresh and fun for everyone throughout the run club season, he says, “We really focus on pacing so the running can stay consistent and enjoyable. We also encourage kids to run with a buddy at a conversational pace to keep them motivated to finish. And if needed, it’s okay to walk!”
MARATHON KIDS OFFERS BENEFITS FOR EVERYONE
Coach Larry has definitely seen benefits for himself since becoming a Marathon Kids coach, as well as for his students and his colleagues at Casis. “I always enjoy running with the kiddos, and it’s great for them to see people they look up to running, too! Teachers also notice a better focus after running their ten minutes on the track.”
His advice for anyone who is considering starting a Marathon Kids run club or becoming a coach? “Do it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help with donations or even creating a Gofundme to make it happen on your campus. Fitness and wellness goals should be part of your campus goals, and Marathon Kids will help you exceed any of those goals.”