Marathon Kids Is Accessible to All
By MK Editor
Elesceeya Pinkerton—Coach Pink to her students—teaches Physical Education at Bunche Elementary in Midland, Texas. Now in its second year of a district tech integration with Marathon Kids, Midland ISD has adopted Marathon Kids across all its elementary campuses. But Coach Pink has been using the program for years, since before she came on at Bunche.
“At my previous school,” she says, “my TA and I had the idea of doing a running club. That involved quite a bit, including going to 5K races in the community, doing after-school practices, and so on. I decided to do Marathon Kids for the younger students, and for the students who wanted to run but didn’t want to be so competitive, or who didn’t have the means to get to the races.”
“We are a Title I school,” she says of Bunche Elementary, “which means that most of our population are lower-income and at risk. Marathon Kids gives them the means to exercise."
That’s a key point about the appeal of running, and of the Marathon Kids mission. Running is a sport that is accessible to all, and the Marathon Kids program is for kids of all backgrounds and abilities. That universality appealed to Coach Pink. “We are a Title I school,” she says of Bunche Elementary, “which means that most of our population are lower-income and at risk. Marathon Kids gives them the means to exercise or experience something that doesn’t require fancy equipment.”
Coach Pink also appreciates that the program draws in kids who may not consider themselves athletes. The Marathon Kids program is designed to get kids moving and help them find their inner athlete. “I think that, for those who are not into sports, it gives them a chance to excel at something,” says Coach Pink. “So we have seen more participation from our students who don’t typically participate in group sports.”
Racking Up Miles on the Track
“We are a true neighborhood school,” Coach Pink says of Bunche. But due to continuing Covid restrictions on campus, there isn’t yet much community involvement with Marathon Kids. Still, she says, her students love Marathon Kids days. “Daily, they ask if they are going to get to run.”
Since Coach Pink and the other Bunche P.E. teachers use Marathon Kids as part of their P.E. program, the entire school, from Pre-K through sixth grade, is involved. Once or twice a week, the kids head outside to run. “We have a field that is marked off for laps, and the students have 45 minutes to run or walk.” Four laps around the field equals a mile; the P.E. teachers set a standard goal for the students of completing at least four laps each running session.
Marathon Kids counts 20 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity as equivalent to one mile, yet Coach Pink and the other Bunche P.E. teachers use the program only for laps. “We don’t use the games we play indoors. We think it makes them work harder,” Coach Pink explains. Most students get in a full mile during their allotted running time; some get in more. One student, Coach Pink says, can typically get in three miles during a session.
Using Marathon Kids Connect to Make Tracking and Reporting a Breeze
“We use Marathon Kids Connect for Districts," Coach pink says, "and the students are in charge of scanning their Runner ID cards as they pass the iPad" when running their laps. Coach Pink and the other P.E. teachers use the digital platform to run reports and add laps or miles to their students’ mileage totals as needed. “We also allow parents to track some activity at home.”
Marathon Kids Connect was designed with P.E. teachers in mind, since it makes it so easy to track and report on kids’ physically active time. But the platform also helps keep kids’ motivation high. “We use the data to pick our top runners,” says Coach Pink. “When our students reach milestones, we celebrate them by taking their pictures and posting them on the window outside of the gym. We also give them spirit sticks.”
And the kids love it. Getting their pictures on the window or being picked student of the week keeps them going. “That’s their motivation,” says Coach Pink.
Any Amount of Exercise Is Good Exercise
Coach Pink believes physical activity is important—all physical activity, in any amount, for any duration. “No matter how big or small, any amount of exercise is good exercise. I think the students are seeing the benefits of even just walking for 45 minutes.”
Her philosophy meshes seamlessly with the Marathon Kids program, which is designed to challenge kids to complete four cumulative marathons (or more!) over the course of a season, one mile at a time. Emphasizing steady progress helps kids to set goals, stay engaged and unlock their potential. It shows them that being active every day improves their entire wellbeing.