About 70 students from Prospect Elementary School have recently taken up running, and they and their teachers have decided to invite the people of Cleveland to join them.
The school’s running club, which started just six weeks ago, will be hosting a 5K run to raise money to further take care of the property’s security concerns.
The Santa Hustle 5K (3.1-mile) run will take place on the school’s property on Saturday, Dec. 7, to both allow the running club to take part in its first running event and raise money for things like fences and harder-to-break windows.
Teacher Tina Shoemaker said the idea of starting a running club at the school was to help discourage childhood obesity by helping children get in the habit of staying fit.
To her surprise, about 70 students initially signed up for the club, which she said was “huge” for it being so new. This semester, Shoemaker has been leading students in a version of the popular “Couch To 5K” running program that begins with students walking and adding running into the 5K distance bit by bit.
“It’s instilled a love for exercise,” Shoemaker said. “They’re seeing they can work their way up. The kids are excited.”
She said students who had previously said they could not run have become runners. One boy who had trouble running for a minute and a half had progressed to the point that he could run for 20 minutes without stopping for a break.
“We learned a lot from running 20 minutes,” said fourth-grader Ethan Mayo. “I didn’t think I could do that before.”
Mayo said he would get out of breath at first, but now he can breathe easier when he runs now that he has had more practice and worked his way up to longer times.
“I’ve learned a lot of stuff about running,” said fourth-grader Baylor Moreland Shelton, adding that his only previous experience with running had been while playing sports like basketball.
Teachers at the school saw a need to continue to foster students’ newfound desires to get better at running and also tackle another need at the school — more security.
Pamela Coffey, who handles academic support in the school, said security has become an ever-growing issue both in local school discussions and in schools across the country.
“After Sandy Hook [an elementary school shooting in Connecticut last year], everyone’s view of safety changed,” Coffey said.
Since then, Prospect Elementary has been taking gradual measures to shore up its property, like adding a fence between the school and some nearby apartments.
Still, she said, the school is trying to raise money for more projects, such as adding more secure windows and another fence to enclose a walkway between the school’s main classroom building and the building that houses the gym.
A solution the teachers came up with was to hold a 5K run at the school. Students, their families and the community could all run together and also raise money for the cause.
Shoemaker said she had seen parents taking up running because their kids take their enthusiasm for running home with them, and hoped the trend would continue after the school’s very first 5K run.
The Santa Hustle 5K run will take place on Dec. 7 at the school, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the run starting at 10 a.m. The cost of the run is $20 per person, and all proceeds will go to the school.
For more information about the run, call Eric Coffey at 423-619-7883.