First ever “Running Squad” builds self-esteem and physical fitness for kids of all abilities.
Little did we know that the first quarter mile would be all uphill on that brisk Saturday morning in the depths of the San Jose hills. The kids lined up for what would be for some their first 5K (3.1 miles). It was cold, but the kids were anxious to get their blood flowing. “On your mark, get set, GO!!” commanded the race director and all of us were off. Speedily they went at 8 a.m. watching their breath turn to a cloud in front of their faces.
This past fall at HTS we started our very own running squad. The goal of the club was to promote physical wellness, goal-setting, and self-esteem, and provide an activity that supports teamwork and inclusion outside the classroom!
Every Tuesday and Thursday our kids ran one to four miles based on different levels of running ability. Each practice had a focus ranging from building the following skills to workouts such as:
- muscle strength
- hill/incline workouts
Exercise: Do Runners Have Superior Brain Function?
In a new study, researchers used MRI scans to compare the brains of young adult cross country runners with those of their sedentary peers. They observed that the runners had greater functional connectivity between distinct brain regions, including the frontal cortex, which is important for cognitive functions such as planning, decision-making, and the ability to switch attention between tasks. Study co-author Dr. Gene Alexander adds, “The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are also the areas that are impacted as we age, so it really raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially beneficial and perhaps afford some resilience against the effects of aging and disease.”
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (November 2016)
On December 3rd, the team woke up early to get out to the hills of south San Jose for a hilly 5K. Although a daunting challenge, the kids went out strong and finished with an amazing accomplishment! Some family members even participated in the race to support the students while others cheered on teammates along the course.
Thanks to an amazing program, based in New York, Achilles Kids donated certificates, bracelets, and medals to our kids who were able to each run a total of a marathon (26.2 miles) with all their mileage from the semester.
Achilles connects people of disabilities to fitness events with the help of a coach. Since our school embodies inclusion in all aspects of our school, we were excited to partner with the program and build a school chapter of our own. Running proves to be an equalizer for kids of all challenges and strengths academically, socially, and physically. We can’t wait for the next season to start in February!
Happy Running! See you next season!