“I believe the potential for greatness still lies in the hearts of our communities and children. And if given the right encouragement and opportunities, who knows what could happen.” – Daniel McDowell
The Active SWV Kids Run Program seeks to improve the health outcomes of southern West Virginian youth by empowering them with the opportunities, skills, and knowledge to be physically active. The central goal of the Active SWV Kids Run Club Program is to instill healthy habits in our area’s youth and to get them excited about running and physical activity. Active SWV believes that all West Virginian youth deserve to live happy, healthy long lives and are the key to the future of both the region and the nation. By transforming West Virginia into a more physically active, healthier community, we improve individual’s lives —reversing the alarming rates of heart disease, diabetes and shortened life expectancies that our state faces.
What is an Active SWV Kids Run Club?
Active SWV Kids Run Clubs are designed to help participants develop an enjoyment and understanding of exercise, while learning healthy habits that extend beyond the program. Run Clubs are hosted at elementary and middle schools across Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas, and Summers Counties. Any interested child may participate; there is no skill requirement, equipment purchases, or membership fees. The Active SWV Kids Run Club Program is provided at no cost to the participant or school and was designed specifically to be accessible for those who may not have the resources to participate in another organized sport. Interested teachers, faculty, parents or family members, or community members can be trained by Active SWV to lead the program as “Run Club Coaches.”
The experience of Active SWV Kids Run Clubs is positive, inclusive, and non-competitive. The program is designed to make children of all abilities feel successful in their running endeavors and to get them excited about physical activity. We track attendance and participation rather than ability, and celebrate the accomplishments of the group over individuals. It is our desire that all participants find joy and confidence with running and physical activity, so that they can continue to be active beyond the club.
Kids Run Clubs last 6-8 weeks and culminate in celebratory Fun Runs for participants, where Active SWV helps facilitate a non-competitive, race-like event to honor the hard work of program participants. Many Kids Run Clubs add their own flair to the Fun Run event, adding in themes like Color Runs, Costume Runs, and Superhero Runs. The event is not timed, and all participants receive finisher medals and certificates. Siblings, parents, and family members are invited to join in on the event, cheering on their child or running alongside them.
Running, specifically, is extremely beneficial for kids because it is one of the most accessible sports. It doesn’t require equipment, aside from running shoes, and there is no specific location needed to practice- kids can run anywhere there is an open space. Not only is running affordable, but it also promotes a healthy heart, healthy lungs, and strong muscles. Through targeting youth with this fun initiative, we hope to not only improve the immediate health of participants, but also instill knowledge, awareness, and ability in West Virginia’s youth.
How does it work?
Starting an Active SWV Kids Run Club is easy! Planning requires an introductory meeting, volunteer coach recruitment, and a volunteer coaches training. Run Club Coaches are equipped with a program manual full of training plans, games, stretches, and safety tips guaranteed to guide you through the whole experience. All you need to bring is a positive attitude and a desire to help kids in our community get physically active! After this initial planning, a start date is chosen and the fun begins. The group will train for 6-8 weeks and then end the program with a celebratory Fun Run. Active SWV helps facilitate elements of the Run Club program, but volunteer coaches take the lead. After the coaches training, Active SWV will be there to help at the start of the season, for a mid-point assessment, and to help facilitate the Fun Run. For more information on the Active SWV Kids Run Club process, download our Coaches Manual below.
All students who participate in the program take a pre- and post-program survey, provided and analyzed by the WVU School of Public Health. Since program survey analysis began
in 2016, every year of Active SWV Kids Run Clubs has shown that participants are meeting physical activity guidelines more days each week then before starting the program!
Survey results have also found a notable reduction in weekly screen time during the school week, with over 50% of participant respondents watching less TV after participation in Run Club (fall 2016), and 40% decreasing their video game and computer time (fall 2017). In fall 2017, 71.8% of youth survey responders reported that since their participation in Run Club, they have gotten a friend or family member to become more active. We hope to expand upon this result and to better understand the impact of Kids Run Club participation on families in future seasons. Fall 2017 survey analysis also showed that students gained physical activity skills and were able to warm-up, cool-down, and stretch on their own.
⇑ # of days with at least 60 minutes of physical activity
⇓ TV, computer, and video game hours
Increased physical activity of friends and family
Increased knowledge and physical activity skills
In just three short years, the energy and response generated by the Active SWV Kids Run Program has been nothing short of a phenomenon, involving over 1000 youth and several hundred volunteers each season. The program began with a pilot club at just one school in 2015. Now, there have been Active SWV Kids Run Clubs at twenty-one schools and two community groups.
We anticipate continued growth of this program and seek support to sustain and grow this physical activity movement sweeping across our region. Support Active SWV Kids Run Clubs with financial donation here.
Not only are the number of Active SWV Kids Run Clubs growing in number, but they are also strengthening in size. Many Kids Run Clubs have participation numbers that make up over half of eligible aged students! We believe this demonstrates the strong need for and support of the Active SWV Kids Run Club program from teachers, students, and families. It is a program that students are excited to participate in and that schools are excited to be a part of.
- Talk to your child’s school principal, guidance counselor, PE teacher about starting a club
- Volunteer as an Active SWV Kids Run Club Coach
- Spread the word about Active SWV Kids Run Clubs
- Talk to your employer about sponsoring an Active SWV Kids Run Club
- Donate to Active SWV Kids Run Clubs
Participating Kids Run Clubs
- Ansted Middle School
- Beards Fork Energy Express
- Birch River Elementary School
- Coal City Elementary School
- Collins Middle School
- Cranberry Prosperity Elementary School
- Daniels Elementary School
- Fairdale Elementary School
- Gauley River Elementary School
- Ghent Elementary School
- Hinton Area Elementary School
- New River Elementary School
- Marsh Fork Elementary School
- Mount Hope Christian Academy
- Mount Hope Elementary
- Mount Hope Energy Express
- Mount Nebo Elementary School
- Panther Creek Elementary School
- Shady Spring Elementary School
- Summersville Elementary School
- REACH Homeschool Group
- Valley Elementary School
- Zela Elementary School