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How to Start an After-School Kids' Running Club

By

kids running club Catherine Holecko

Help school-agers add more activity to their day with an after-school kids' running club (you can include walkers too). Starting one yourself is easy to do and simple to maintain, plus you get to join in on the jogging and walking--so your fitness levels get a boost too. A kids' running club requires very little equipment and doesn't have to cost a thing.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: A few hours' setup, plus a few hours a week to run or walk

Here's How:

  1. Take an informal poll of kids and parents at your child's school. Is there interest in an after-school kids' running club? Or one held during recess? Some kids can run and some can walk.
  2. Talk to the principal to get feedback, buy-in, and information on next steps. Find out what sorts of permission forms would be required, whether you need a teacher sponsor, how many adult supervisors should participate, and so on. Kids will need to leave backpacks at school while the running club is out hitting the streets, so make sure they can re-enter to get them later. (For a recess club, you'd stay on school grounds.)
  3. Spread the word. Place a blurb in the school or classroom newsletter, send out an email to parents, whip up a quick flyer for kids' backpacks. Set a date for your first meeting and ask interested kids and parents to come.
  4. Set ground rules: Kids must have a permission slip to participate; stay on the sidewalk/jogging trail; wait at the corner to cross streets with an adult; etc.
  5. Determine a route. If your school has a large property, or you'll be meeting during the school day, do laps around the edge. Or map out a safe route along local streets. Since some kids will be faster than others, look for both a short and a long loop. Younger kids (kindergarten and 1st grade) can do a mile walk. Second grade and up can handle walking or jogging 1.5 miles or more.
  6. Hold a brief first meeting of the kids' running club. Distribute any permissions forms and discuss expectations for behavior. Determine whether you'll need to recruit more adult chaperones (depending on the number of participating kids). Set a schedule for future meetings--once or twice a week.
  7. Take your first run! Gather permission forms, do some simple stretches, and you're ready to go.
  8. Continue with regular meetings as long as weather permits.
  9. At the end of the season or school year, celebrate with inexpensive medals or homemade certificates of participation. Or consider awarding interim incentives, such as rubber stamps or punches on a card, or stickers.

Tips:

  1. Recruit a like-minded parent or teacher to help. Everyone gets some extra exercise.
  2. Making participation optional keeps the pressure off.
  3. Remember that some kids won't be able to run the whole distance. Be prepared with chaperones at the back of the pack.
  4. For kids who can't quite go the distance, try run/walk intervals of 30 seconds to a minute (or alternating city blocks).

What You Need:

  • Meeting place/secure location to leave backpacks, change shoes
  • Signed permission slips for participating kids
  • List of participants, to check them in and out
  • A way to contact parents, such as flyers or email
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