When Brianna Sorge of New London crossed the finish line of the Bellin 10K, she was surprised she finished in 1 hour and 10 minutes. “It was really fun,” said the 11-year-old about her first race. “I thought I could make it. I was kind of surprised that I did finish and the time that I did.”
Sorge is part of a running club at New London Middle School, which started at the end of last school year to prepare for the Bellin 10K. Students trained two to three days a week after school with 30 students training and then about 20 students, and some parents, competing in the race. “It was an amazing opportunity for all who were involved,” said Theresa Smith, a fifth grade teacher. “The kids were just beaming as they crossed the finish line.”
The group will resume in October. The New London Community Health Action Team (CHAT), which includes ThedaCare, approved funding for this program because the importance of before and after school exercise was discovered during the plunge into obesity in June 2013. “They’re excited to come back,” said Smith. “They love it. They are building friendship and sense of belonging, which is really neat for them.”
Sorge said running is a way to stay in shape for basketball. “I really liked the feeling of running,” she said, adding she likes “being able to run with my friends and racing.”
Smith said the school was inspired to offer a running club after hearing about the success of the Longfellow Running Club in Clintonville. Smith and Kelly Parker said the New London students developed a sense of pride that came with the training and the race. “Some of the kids that were involved were kids that hadn't ever participated in a sport or a club,” said Smith. “They felt so excited to belong to the club and then to compete in their first race, a 10K, was a huge confidence builder.”
The club is for fifth and sixth graders, who do not have many sport and club opportunities. “We hope to get two to three races in during the winter months and then more in the spring,” said Smith.
Students will learn to set and achieve goals. The running club promotes family and community involvement and gives students “a safe place that allows them to feel confident in who they are,” said Smith.
The goals will help build healthy students and community, said Smith, noting the club will “get kids hooked on a healthy life sport and teach them healthy habits to help them be successful in their races and in their lives.”