Kids Running Toward a Goal

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Kids Running Toward a Goal

By Catherine Morris

The Marathon Kids program teaches the power of setting goals and working at their own pace to achieve them. Based on research-proven methods, the purpose of our goal-driven program is to increase daily physical activity by challenging kids to run, jog, walk or move the equivalent of four (or more!) marathons over the course of a season.

While being physically active is key to the program, it isn't the only benefit. Through running—or walking, or moving—with Marathon Kids, children learn that being active together, every day improves their entire wellbeing. Daily physical activity promotes a growth mindset and is proven to improve kids’ moods, academic performance, and self-confidence.

Goals are conquered by completing minutes of heart-pumping activity or finishing miles in achievable increments. Coaches like Stacey Shapiro from Zilker Elementary motivate participants to go further than they ever thought possible. 

All About Achievable Increments

Coach Shapiro is a first-grade teacher in Austin, Texas. She has been a Marathon Kids coach since she taught her very first class 24 years ago. “I thought it was a wonderful way to get my students active and work toward a goal. Over the years, the determination and joy my students have exhibited when reaching their goals keeps me returning to Marathon Kids.”


And her students are loving Marathon Kids too. Shapiro sets up an iPad on a crate near the track, and the students scan their QR codes through the Marathon Kids Connect scanning app after each lap they complete.  “We go out for 20 minutes each day for WOW time,” Shapiro says, “and many students choose to run one or more laps during recess. They thrive on setting goals as to how many laps they will run each day and when they will achieve their next milestone.”

Shapiro says. “Having time to teach everything is quite a challenge,” she says, “but carving time each day for physical activity is necessary. Encouraging physical activity at a young age will help kids build confidence, routines and healthy habits that will last a lifetime. And when we exercise our bodies, it helps our brains get ready to learn. It helps get the wiggles out, so students can focus more in the classroom.”

She uses the reporting feature to print out Mileage reports each week in class, so her students can see their progress and know how many laps they need to reach their goals. “I ask them throughout the week, ‘What’s your goal today? How many laps do you want to run?’ That is a huge motivator to them, too.”

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On Fridays, she goes over her students’ total mileage with them. “We celebrate anyone who has reached a milestone. We talk about how many more miles they need to reach their next milestone. Then I print out and hang up the Runner’s Mileage totals so students can refer back to it while they set goals for the upcoming week.”

Best of all, each participant gets to work toward their individual goals as a part of a team. The Marathon Kids program is positive and inclusive, designed to help kids of all backgrounds and abilities unlock their potential, one mile at a time. 

As a nonprofit, Marathon Kids provides these tools and resources for FREE to schools and communities. Ready to create an account? Start running with us today!

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