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JUST RUN Posts Record Numbers to Start School Year
Carmel, CA—JUST RUN is off and running. The youth fitness program aimed at children 5-12, and a 2011 RRCA Kids Run the Nation grant recipient, has been experiencing phenomenal growth in the first two months of the school year. Already, more than 8,300 students from 70 schools in 13 states have been enrolled.
“This year’s initial growth is unprecedented,” said Susan Love, the program’s director. “Last year at this time we only had 2,000 children; this increase in number is extremely rewarding as well as motivating.” Love attributes the early rise in the program to several factors. Of major significance is JUST RUN’s outreach into Santa Clara County, a largely populated area adjacent to JUST RUN’s home county of Monterey. The program, which offers free incentives marking mileage accomplishments within Monterey County, is also providing tokens, wristbands, t-shirts and other items free of charge to the Santa Clara schools. In addition, the JUST RUN team continues to make presentations and face-to-face contact with school principals, teachers and leaders to explain how to implement the program and the myriad benefits it brings to the children and the classroom setting. These efforts have succeeded in increasing the early sign-ups by 400 percent.
JUST RUN is a free, website-based program which was developed by the Big Sur Marathon non-profit running organization in 2004 as a way to combat childhood obesity and to promote physical activity. The annual enrollment has been steadily increasing over the years from a first year total of 4,376. Last year, a record was set with 11,418 students enrolled, and now JUST RUN is on a fast track to surpass that on its way to a goal of 15,000 children in the 2013-14 academic year.
In addition to running drills, relays and goal races, the program incorporates Just Deeds, acts of good citizenship, and Just Taste to encourage children to make healthy eating choices. The website tracks group mileage on a virtual run across the United States where the children can learn about the geographic and cultural aspects of areas through which they run.
While the physical benefits of running and exercising are obvious, numerous studies have shown an increase in classroom attentiveness and faster cognitive processing speed following exercise, as well as higher academic scores among those who are more physically active.
A recent testimonial comes from Amanda Johnson at Frank Ledesma School in Soledad, CA, a teacher with 31 students enrolled in her second grade class. When asked how she finds the time to incorporate JUST RUN, she replied, “How can I NOT do it? I start my day with the program and the kids are so much calmer when they get to class.”