‘Be A Miler’ event gets kids hyped for fitness

June 25, 2014 

Last month the rain held off, the air was just the right temperature, and just about everyone who is anyone at Harbor Heights Elementary spent an invigorating day participating in National Run a Mile Day. Hardly anybody didn’t wear a “Be A Miler” T-shirt. Spectacular!

To add to the fun, the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team’s popular mascot, Rhubarb, jogged a bit with the runners but mainly waited to thrill them with high-fives as they rounded the school’s track.

The Peninsula School District has long participated in National Run a Mile Day, an annual event created by the American Running Association. Dave Rucci, Harbor Heights’ physical education teacher, and Dr. Pat Hogan, a local physician, have spearheaded the event. PE teachers from elementary, middle and high schools enthusiastically encourage their students to participate by setting a date in May and readying their charges with a variety of training activities. When the big day arrives, class after class of young people line up along tracks, eagerly awaiting the signal to start on a mile run.

“It is truly an inspirational event as well as confirmation that Peninsula School District youth are making steady strides toward lifelong physical fitness,” Rucci said. “This year, as an added incentive, over 8,000 T-shirts were delivered by the American Running Association and distributed throughout the district. Every participant from 4 to 18 years old will cross the finish line, not only with the personal satisfaction of a goal accomplished, but also wearing a logo that proclaims for all to applaud, ‘Be A Miler.’”

Rucci explained that the mile has been a standard of track and field for more than 100 years and is a measure of fitness in the Presidential Fitness Award program by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. It is one step in the process to encourage more walking and running. The “Be A Miler” focus is intended to get more children motivated and enthused to run, not just to run the mile, but to kick-start a fitness plan.

“I like that in America we had a day when it was just about being physically fit, being active and being able to help younger kids run the mile, too,” declared fifth-grader Nick Jones.

For first-grader Hugh Vicente, “Getting to sign other people’s shirts was super fun, and people getting to sign mine. Running was kinda hard, kinda early. I made a plan for myself; I walked part of the track and then I ran the rest. I did that each lap.”

“What a great day!” said school principal Mary Godwin-Austen. “It took a great deal of planning, but it was sure worth it. Happy kids running and being active is just the best.”

Aidan Bartlett, a fourth-grader, “liked that we could walk or run and there wasn’t any strict boundaries on what you could do. Once you ran a mile, you could have a choice after that. I also liked how you could sign the poster that says ‘I’m a Miler!’ that our whole school signed.”

Second-grader Caden Martinez “loved that it made us a little more healthier. We got to hold pom poms and wave them around on our last lap.”

Now, if I can just encourage myself to emulate all this physical well-being activity .....

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