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Darryl J. Keisling,   L. A. Ainger Middle School
Access to Healthy Foods, Community Involvement, Physical Activity Participation, Student Leadership, Success with Funds,  Teamwork

At Ainger Middle School, we literally hit the ground running. Students and adults made sacrifices to accomplish their goals. We had a cross country program in our intramural program; however, we always believed that we could reach more students. Marathon Kids helped us accomplish that goal. We took “just running laps or running around the school” to a whole new level. We made running and fitness a FUN activity. Through the use of such running games/activities as “Clue”, “Urban Dare”, “Zombie Run”, and “Challenger School Hunt”, our students were literally “kept on their toes” with fun runs. We took this idea to a whole, new level with our “Tacky Tourist Day” run, as students and adults had “major” fun with this theme. Along with input from the students, we are already planning for next school year.

How did students and adults work together as a team?

From the start of our “Kick-Off Color Run” on September 9, 2016, our staff, parents and community have embraced our program. Whether running with the students, counting their laps,keeping time or just lending a “needed” hand, the kids and adults have worked together to make the program a success. Whenever we announced a “special” running activity, we always had parents and staff contact us and asked if they could run or assist us.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

One of the big challenges we faced was assisting kids in accomplishing their goals. Many of our students are involved in other activities after school. It is difficult for many students to complete their weekly running goals. If they could not make a commitment to come after school, we worked around their schedule. Students ran before school, after PE class or after lunch to meet their challenges head-on. They sacrificed to accomplish their goals, which is HUGE for middle school students.

What improvements have you seen at your school?

We have seen many improvements in our school, as more students and adults want to be a part of our program. Students willing to “go the extra mile” to accomplish their goals, encouraging others to join in and assisting “special needs” students in their journey. Staff members and parents, who have “shunned” activity in the past, are willing to give our program a try, as they walk, jog, skip, and run with their students. Fitness truly does bring a community together.