While some kids feel born to run, many discover their passion through school activities. At Madison Elementary School, physical education teacher Becky Eserhaut created two opportunities for students to get active and discover the joys of running for themselves, all while bringing their school community closer together.
During the 2018-2020 school year, Eserhaut taught at Colorado Elementary School. While there, she remembers, “two of my 4th grade students approached me and the principal Mr. Castle with a proposal to have a running club. It was their original idea. We liked the idea and thought we could give it a try. The club would give students an opportunity to work on their running endurance and provide a fun and healthy opportunity to be active with friends and teaching staff.”
Over the course of the school year, the running club proved quite popular. When the students and staff of Colorado moved to Madison to allow Colorado to become the Muskie Early Learning Center, many of Eserhaut’s students encouraged her to keep it going. She agreed.
Even in the first two weeks of school, it has grown and flourished. So far, ninety-two fourth through sixth grade students and eighteen staff members have signed up. Each Friday, after school, the group meets up in the gym and students choose which staff member they would like to run or walk with. They then follow a set path through the neighborhood around the school together, returning to school around 4:00 pm.
Eserhaut has felt very pleased with the positive environment the club provides. “I enjoy building connections with students when we jog together. During the school day, time is limited and I don’t always have time to just talk to students about their interests. Running club provides an opportunity for that. I also really enjoy having students and staff participate in an activity that promotes an active lifestyle.”
For students of all ages, Eserhaut has also started a milage club to encourage them to get active during their recess periods. She explained, “During recess a student may choose to run or walk a lap around our field. Laps are counted, and for every mile a student completes, he/she is awarded a shoe shaped charm to put on a shoe string or lanyard.”
After hearing about similar clubs at other schools, Eserhaut first instituted the milage club during the Muscatine Community School District STEAM Camp, and students took to it. As the number of students opting to participate in it grows, she values the impact it has. “There is research to show that the more physically fit a student is, the better he/she will perform academically. My hope is that they are increasing their fitness level as well as performing better in the classroom. I also hope students make the connection that walking, jogging, or running with friends can be a great social activity that they can continue throughout life at any age.”