Grant Helps Fund Program at Clintonville Elementary School
A Clintonville school running club is getting an extra kick start from ThedaCare. The Longfellow Running Club received a grant from ThedaCare’s Community Health Improvement to help fund the program, which brings students together twice a week before school for training runs. After the runs, the students receive a healthy breakfast. In addition, club members sign up to compete in local 5k races together.
Karen Petermann, a physical education teacher at Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School, said the running club gets students excited about exercise. The $2,000 grant from ThedaCare will be used to purchase reflective vests for students to wear outside when running as well as help pay race admission fees for students who can’t afford it.
“This spring, I think we’ll have more than 100 runners. It’s very exciting. My focus for the club is to have fun, to improve fitness and to develop a love for running as a form of lifetime fitness,” she said. “There is no emphasis on winning. The kids knew they are winners just because they worked hard and crossed the finish line each day and each race.”
“Getting children to be active is important in helping to combat childhood obesity, which is a growing concern. Overweight children can develop health problems, such has high blood pressure and diabetes that are normally seen in adults,” Dr. Fang said. “Teaching children fun ways to get moving and making it a part of their daily lives will help them stay healthier.”
Petermann and other teachers at the school have noticed that club participants are doing better in the classroom. “We originally started this club as a way to combat obesity in children, but through my personal observations, I see that the kids I had in running club became the leaders in my classroom. This was pretty sweet,” she said. “Other teachers say they notice the students have more self-confidence.”
Since the running club started in 2011, it has grown to include students from Clintonville Middle School as well as afternoon training sessions for students interested in running longer races. Petermann also worked with the school district to offer the running club as a session in the school’s summer school program. “It’s wonderful to see so many students get excited about fitness. We also encourage their families to get involved, too,” she said.
Petermann also praised parents, teachers, and local businesses for supporting the running club by giving both time and money to help the club succeed. “We are now being contacted by other schools to help them start up their own running programs,” she said. “It’s a great story.”
ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.