Crim Fitness Foundation expands running program for schoolkids

Posted by Melissa Burden | The Flint Journal October 10, 2007 07:27AM

FLINT -- Fifth-grader Jonathon Strong looks forward to it each day.

Before school, Jonathon, 9, heads to the soccer field at Washington Elementary School, 1400 N. Vernon Ave., to run. And in just a few weeks this school year, Jonathon has logged at least 21 miles running and walking.

I'm not going to get a certain number, I'm just going to keep going, he said.
Washington students are among those at 20 Flint School District elementaries that are logging miles of exercise before school, during gym class, at recess and after school.

In all, 40 area schools are participating in the Crim Fitness Foundation-run Feelin' Good Mileage Club. Fitness Finders Inc. created the club, a program to get students active and fight obesity.

The club came to the Flint schools thanks to a $446,000-plus, three-year grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation.

Ten Flint elementaries participated last year and another 10 joined this year, said Marti Austin, youth program coordinator for the Crim Fitness Foundation.

Austin said all the Flint schools that participated last year met benchmarks: having at least 25 percent of permission slips returned and having 50 percent of those students log at least 50 miles.

All 10 schools were able to get some extra funding to use toward rewarding the kids or buying PE equipment for the schools, Austin said.

At Summerfield Elementary School, 1360 Milbourne Ave., about 100 kids participated last year and coordinator Karen Webster is hoping for a similar turnout this year.

Webster said she's had to encourage some kids to stick it out as students run or walk during lunch recess.

I say, 'This is exercise. It's better than playing,' Webster said. It's keeping them in shape.

Mike Maienbrook, a physical education teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School, 1235 Pershing St., and at Merrill Elementary School, 1501 W. Moore St., has incorporated the program into gym classes.

But he does a minute club, where kids have to jog for so many minutes.

Every couple weeks, the club increases by another five minutes, Maienbrook said.
Last year, our highest clubs got up to 40 minutes of jogging without stopping.

At Washington, where about 200 students are participating, pupils often ask about Jonathon's progress, said Kathy Wagner, a librarian and a Washington coordinator.
We call him the marathon man now, she said. He's doing so well.

Jonathon's mother, Wendy Talley, 33, of Flint said she's happy the school has the mileage club.

I think it's great, said Talley, whose daughters, first-grader Stephanie Strong, 6, and third-grader Samantha Talley, 7, also are mileage club participants. Every day, he's up early and wants to go to school early just to do it. It keeps him occupied.

Logging miles
About the Feelin' Good Mileage Club run by the Crim Fitness Foundation:
• WHAT IS IT? A program in 40 area schools that encourages students to be more active and logs their running and walking mileage.
• FLINT SCHOOLS NEW TO THE PROGRAM THIS YEAR: Anderson, Bunche, Carpenter Road, Cummings, Doyle-Ryder, Freeman, Garfield, Gundry, Merrill and Washington elementaries.
• FLINT SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING FOR A SECOND YEAR: Bryant, Civic Park, Coolidge, Durant-Tuuri-Mott, Eisenhower, Neithercut, Pierce, Potter, Scott and Summerfield elementaries.
Source: Crim Fitness Foundation