“This is phenomenal for us,” said Susan Love, JUST RUN program director. “It took six years to reach one million miles and just three to gain another million. The program is definitely growing in size and stature throughout our region and beyond.”
Each year the program begins anew, registering schools and individual classes or grade levels into the web-based system. The growth of enrollment has been steadily climbing, topping out last year’s participation of 11,418. The JUST RUN team set an ambitious goal of 15,000 children for the 2013-14 school year and surpassed this number just eight months into the program. Currently there are JUST RUN programs being administered 122 schools throughout 15 states.
Since its inception, JUST RUN has tracked miles from 72,000 entrants. While some of these are repeats from year to year, the program has positively affected the lives of thousands. In addition to logging miles, the children earn “Just Deeds,” or acts of good citizenship, and are introduced to “Just Taste,” focusing on healthy eating. The participants receive small tokens as incentives for miles run and Just Deeds performed.
Surpassing the two million mile mark was cause for celebration. JUST RUN staff and leaders joined Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Kotowski, in congratulating the student body at Lincoln School in Salinas, CA. Nearly 500 students cheered for the program’s success and ran a celebratory lap in honor of the achievement.
“Reaching the two million mile mark is certainly a milestone,” said Kotowski. “I am so proud of students, teachers and parents for embracing the JUST RUN program. This program is essential in promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles, and plays an important role in enhancing academic achievement.”
JUST RUN was started in 2005 as a means to combat childhood obesity and related illnesses, but fitness programs have proven to have additional benefits as well.
“The obesity trend unfortunately isn’t decreasing to any great extent,” Love said, “but teachers are beginning to realize that aerobic exercise has very positive effects in the classroom on behavior, concentration, retention of certain materials and achievement on tests.”
Several JUST RUN leaders have commented that they notice their students are calmer and more focused in the classroom after having completed a JUST RUN session of running drills and games.
About JUST RUN:
JUST RUN is an easy-to-implement, free, website-based program offered to schools and youth groups in any locale. The program was developed by the Big Sur International Marathon organization to contribute to the health and well-being of children and youth, to promote physical activity, and to address the epidemic of childhood obesity and its related illnesses. It has received numerous accolades including a Gold Medal from the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, a designation as a "model program" by Running USA, the Excellence in Education award from the Monterey County School Boards Association and "Contributors of the Year" for its administrators Mike Dove and Susan Love.