Over 1,000 Robious Middle School students from Midlothian, Va. ran one mile through American Running Association’s National Run A Mile Days (NRAMD) on May 3rd and 4th, a program designed to get this generation moving one mile at a time.
The day was overcast with a slight drizzle – perfect weather for running! Robious students brought their energy and enthusiasm, they were like wind-up toys ready to charge forward as soon as the dial mechanism was released. All students wore their NRAMD’s “Are You a Miler?” shirts and were ready to run once their class was called.
The one mile course included the bus loop, around the back of the school property including the athletic fields and trail along the woods. The course finished the loop at the tennis courts. Students had various expressions crossing the finish line. For some it was simple, for others it was a stretch out of their comfort zone. For all, running one mile was an accomplishment and highlight of the day. Robious students pushed each other to the finish where many stayed to cheer their remaining friends on the course.
There was a lot of positive energy and true school spirit throughout the day. “The mile run is something almost all of our students can do,” Robious Middle School, Health and Physical Education Teacher, Amy Canada said. “It’s about getting out there and moving that makes a difference in our communities health and well-being.”
The students enjoyed the event and got the message of running, for 8th grader, Maddie Wachtel the mile was fun. “It’s a really great way to exercise and keep healthy, running helps keep you strong and is a good cardio exercise.”
For 8th grader Jake Verbeek, “I thought today’s run was a lot of fun. Running the mile can help you cross train with all kinds of sports like football and track.”
As portrayed by the media, obesity is a huge problem for Generation Z who spend more of their time in front of television, computers and video games contributing to a sedentary lifestyle.
American Running Association wanted to contribute a solution to childhood obesity through running and created NRAMD whose mission is to get elementary and middle school students excited about getting more fit and healthy with running the mile as a starting point. “It’s about getting out there and moving,” American Running Association’s Executive Director, Dave Watt said, “It is not about speed, running one mile is a simple step to creating a healthy lifestyle.”
NRAMD takes place in May through early June, it is free for all elementary and middle schools. Registered hosts schools receive promotional, training and logistical support tools and “Are you a Miler?” tee-shirts for every student participant.
May is National Physical Fitness and Sport Month, “We were looking for something all the students and teachers could do as school and as a community,” Canada said. “National Run A Mile Days tied into that perfectly.”
Robious Middle School is also finding ways to combat obesity within their community. Robious is a certified Active RVA School which adopts, supports and engages physical activity as part of their school’s culture. As a school of Chesterfield County, Robious incorporates fitness into their operational plan, while the main focus of the health and physical education department is to teach activities children can participate and do over a lifetime.
As a school, they created Fitness Fridays during the first semester. Every Friday the school carried out a fitness theme and for 30 minutes, the students and teachers participated in the physical activity. “In October, the UCI World Championships took place in our town,” Canada said, “so the theme that month was biking.”
Robious students were ready for NRAMD, they train all school year. In the Health and Physical Education Department, all students have an activity warm-up consisting of 10 exercises for 5 minutes. The class always incorporates a fitness component.
In preparation for NRAMD, the Health and Physical Education Department worked together to map out the mile course, obtained bottles of water, coordinated shirt size and quantities for students and sent notification of participation home to parents. One week prior to NRAMD, Principal Dr. Patrick Held emailed parents about participation.
Participating in the NRAMD event was a great community success. “It was a well-supported event from the faculty and teachers to the students,” Robious Health and Physical Education Teacher, Jeff Berry said, “With child obesity on the rise this is another example how to get kids active within the school environment.”
Both Berry and Canada said they plan to participate in NRAMD next year. When Watt shouted to the students, “Are you a Miler?” they unanimously cheered, “ We are a Miler.” They too will be ready to answer the call again in 2017.