GRAFTON— As a way to provide recreational physical activity to students who may not be athletically inclined or prefer not to take part in organized youth sports, this year, Anna Jarvis Elementary School (AJES) offered a running club to those in grades two-four.
AJES counselor Cindy Rubenstein was the driving force behind the start of the Anna Jarvis Running Club, sharing that she had previously participated in several hikes that were organized by Activ Southern WV.
When she learned that the organization was awarding grants for elementary schools to start running clubs, she immediately thought of her own students, and applied for the opportunity.
After a brief interview, Rubenstein had secured the grant for AJES and got to work, hoping to provide a fun and healthy outlet for the young students.
“I wanted to do a run club as a way for kids to become active after enduring the COVID isolation,” she shared. “I realize that not all kids can participate in things like soccer or t-ball, so this was a way for kids to have something to do that was free of charge. I wanted kids to realize how fun it is to become physically active.”
The club drew the interest of 61 students who eagerly signed up to participate, and also garnered the attention of fellow teachers and volunteers willing and excited to help out with the new venture including, AJES teachers Leslie Cochran, Cori Cumberland, Amy Andrews, Alyssia Annon, PD Louzy and high school students Matthew and James Helmondollar.
The club got its official start on April 19, and ran for six weeks, concluding the season on May 24 with a “Fun Run.”
Throughout the season, members were asked to keep track of their physical activity outside of school. Those who participated in the extra movement were entered into drawings for their chance to win prizes.
In addition, all of the AJES runners were presented with official club t-shirts and medal at the completion of the season.
“I think the club was received very well by the kids and parents,” Rubenstein commented. “I saw so many kids discover that they are good runners. I saw kids who said they wanted to get better at running, and there were kids who had never ran before and pushed themselves out of their comfort zones.”
And while the season only lasted for six weeks, she noted that it was an enjoyable experience to see the students improve over the time period, and to have so much fun while doing so.
“It was such an amazing thing to see the kids develop over the six weeks,” she expressed. “If only one of those kids become more physically active as a result of running club, I will consider it a success!”