Children's Run/Walk Program

Running is good for you. Running is fun. If we did a wee bit of brainstorming together we could all come up with a long list of benefits from regular exercise that would probably encompass everything from looking better, feeling better, less risk of a bazillion ailments, stronger immune system, better memory retention, yada, yada – the list is impressively endless and requires no prescription. There is a similar list, only longer, for encouraging children to experience the fun of running and walking regularly.

Our run/walk programs teach children the benefit of daily exercise. Challenge students to set goals for fitness. Educate children on the value of making decisions to stay fit for life by awarding high school students college scholarships to students. Some of the additional benefits include better scholastic performance, fewer behavior issues, better immune systems, and the ability to avoid the many, many, health risks and diseases tied to being overweight and out of shape. Besides, children naturally love to run and play. We should all retain that love of moving under our own power. So, you may be thinking, that I have an amazing grasp of the obvious. If all of those benefits come from things as simple as running and walking regularly, and children, in particular, love to do those things already, the problem solves itself, right? Not so much. Something like 15% of the population exercises regularly, despite the obvious benefits. In school, the allocation of time and funding for physical education has declined dramatically over the years for a multitude of reasons.

We, the Florida Striders, are part of the solution to this rather large problem and have been quietly making a real difference in the lives and health of our children. We support over fifty elementary school run/walk programs. In each of these schools, a coach or teacher, usually as volunteers, provide a framework for our children and grandchildren to get out and run or walk each week. Parent volunteers help track the mileage logged. The enthusiasm and enjoyment the children generate is palpable and exciting just to watch. They love the activity and they love the accomplishment of reaching their mileage goals. Yes, there are incentives as the children reach mileage goals. This is where we, the Florida Striders and our sponsors come in and help in a big way.

  • Marathon Medals – well over 4000 this school year alone!
  • 50 mile club shirts
  • 75 mile awards
  • 100 mile club shirts
  • 125 mile awards
  • 150 mile club shirts
  • 200 mile club shirts
  • 250 mile club shirts
  • 300 mile club shirts
  • 350 mile club shirts
  • Key chains, Big feet, and Small feet to get them started, to display their accomplishments, and recognize their intermediate mileage goals
  • Provide 5 free Fun Runs each year in which to participate
  • Distribute $2800 to the Run/Walk clubs through their Fun Run participation
  • Provide templates on our web site with helpful information on beginning a run/walk club
  • Designing Start-Up kits to give new programs the needed materials to get going

The number of elementary schools with Run/Walk clubs is growing. The number of participating children we are supporting is growing. The 50% increase in marathon medals awarded is indicative of the exciting progress. Many of the incentive awards for the children were just initiated thanks to the help of Orange Park Medical Center, our new Children’s Running Title Sponsor and their generous support.

I wish I could list all of the people, both the Florida Strider volunteers, coaches, teachers, and the champions at each of the sponsorships above who donate their time, talent, and energy to make a positive difference in our community.

Thank you one and all. Together we will make things better.

Questions or comments about the Children's Running Program may be directed to the program coordinator, Carol MacDougall, at childrensrunning@floridastriders.com.