Check out this fabulous feature in Florida Today online on the sensational success story earned by 21 schools in Brevard County, Florida. It’s a good one! Morning Mile program encourages health, fun. The video below was also pulled from that article.
MELBOURNE— Six-year-old Cristian Tapia ran a mile Thursday morning — and then proudly held up five coffee stirrers representing the distance, one for each lap around yellow cones set up on a field at Croton Elementary School.
“It’s awesome,” the first-grader said, adding that he was looking forward to earning his first charm, given out as a reward after completing five miles.
The Morning Mile program launched this year at 21 Space Coast public schools, thanks to a $20,000 donation by Wuesthoff Health System for start-up costs, such as sound systems that blast upbeat music, coffee stirrers to count the laps and charms to be given out incrementally and after 100 miles.
“(It’s about) being healthy,” said Debbie Whitnable, a nurse manager of cardiac rehab at Wuesthoff. “If they learn at a young age, hopefully it’ll last a lifetime for them.”
Since November, when the program started, Brevard students have logged about 20,000 miles — and counting. Some schools offer the program a few days a week, while others every school day.
Kindergartener Isabelle Rootsey typically has time to log one lap before school, something she looks forward to, and frequently asks her mom, Tania Rootsey, about. Others have run up to 2 miles before class started.
Fifth-grader Anna Hinkle has earned six charms so far — representing 30 miles. Like many students, she arrives early to school anyway, and the Morning Mile gives her a chance to walk and talk with friends.
“It’s fun,” the 11-year-old said. “I like the music playing in the background.”
Teachers say they’ve seen remarkable benefits of the program: Students are more awake and ready to learn, those with hyperactivity seem to behave better in class, and about four students have lost a dramatic amount of weight, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of body fat.
“Is this lap number two? Good job!,” fifth grade teacher Catherine Murphy said to student
s as they ran or walked by. “Don’t forget to get your stick, buddy!”
As about 85 students ran and walked around the field, parent volunteer Stephanie Nadeau handed out coffee stirrers to help students keep track of the distance they’d completed. So far, about 160 or so Croton students have participated in the program, traveling more than 2,300 miles.
The Morning Mile program, developed by Fitzness International, is in 77 schools in Florida and Texas. Schools are matched with sponsors to support program costs, and volunteers and school staff administer the program.
“I can see it make a big difference,” Nadeau said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids lose weight, and they’re doing better in school.”
Written by Mackenzie Ryan.