JUST RUN for Your Children

The University of Michigan Hospital’s recently published results from the annual National Poll on Children’s Health indicates that for the first time ever adults view “not enough exercise” as the biggest health concern for children in their communities.
Number two on the list is the related category “Childhood Obesity”. Numbers three through 10 on the list are: smoking and tobacco use, drug abuse, bullying, stress, alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, internet safety, and child abuse and neglect.
Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll says, “exercise offers many more benefits other than weight loss or preventing obesity, such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well being.”  We’ll go one step further and say that children’s exercising on a regular basis improves self esteem, body awareness, appreciation for their own health and contributes to lowering the possibility of a child getting involved in ALL of the items in the health concern list.
Most experts agree that it is the joint responsibility of the parents and the schools to promote an active lifestyle among children. How do you effectively teach your children the value of regular physical activity?
Most schools, unfortunately, have budget shortfalls, no Physical Education teachers, and lack of resources to meet their state mandated guidelines of 200 minutes of P.E. time every two weeks for each student. There are competing priorities for school and teacher time and some school administrators feel that inside time is more valuable than outside time.
The Big Sur International Marathon’s JUST RUN program is a FREE program available to all schools in Monterey County.  The program has won so many local and national accolades and educational awards that it is being used by schools in 14 states and 2 foreign countries that have found the program on the internet (www.justrun.org) and registered. The program can be implemented by any teacher or any parent in any school; they do not have to be a P.E. specialist.  It can be implemented during, before, or after school.
Research studies on JUST RUN schools in Monterey County indicate that the percentage of students passing the aerobic capacity California Fitnessgram test increase from 56% to 81% when schools implement JUST RUN.  As well, there are associated increases in the other five Fitnessgram measured areas. Even more significant, academic testing scores have increased 2% to 11% in schools adapting the JUST RUN program.
Assessment of children in the program and parents indicate participants are not only getting fitter, but are enjoying the program; 98% of the kids want to do it again the following school year.  JUST RUN also has an associtated nutritional component aptly called JUST TASTE and a good citizenship program called JUST DEEDS.
Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, has been an avid and constant supporter of JUST RUN and has briefed all of the County’s School Superintendents on the program. Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, attended some JUST RUN events in April and his reaction was “Fabulous, fantastic, awesome, magnificant! This program is a program we want all schools in California to embrace because it works. We’re trying to have California kids be healthier because they’ll learn better.”
Forty six of Monterey County’s approximately 110 schools are doing the JUST RUN program. If you are a parent of a child in one of the 64 that are not, you can call the Principal and help get one started.
Contact JUST RUN program administrator Susan Love at 831-625-6226 or susanwlove@sbcglobal.net for more information.

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