Active Southern West Virginia’s effort to launch running clubs in elementary schools is aimed at reducing health problems in young people.
In the Fall of 2015, Active Southern West Virginia launched its first running club for school students, at Valley Elementary School in Fayette County. Since then, Active has created kids running clubs in eight schools in southern West Virginia.
Those schools are: Valley Elementary, Ansted Middle, Summersville Elementary, Mt. Hope Elementary, Marsh Fork Elementary, Cranberry Prosperity Elementary, Panther Creek Elementary and Fairdale Elementary.
Active Southern West Virginia has set itself the goal of 20 kids running clubs by the end of the 2016/17 school year.
In an effort to radically change health outcomes in southern West Virginia, Active Southern West Virginia is focusing on increasing physical activity rates in young people. Through kids running clubs, Active is working to help kids develop a healthy relationship to exercise at an early age. The organization focuses on running primarily, because of its accessibility. Unlike other popular sports, running doesn’t require any equipment.
More than 50 percent of participants reported watching less television after introduction to a running club.
West Virginia University’s School of Public Health worked closely with Active Southern West Virginia to examine the real impact of the kids running clubs. WVU found a statistically significant uptick in the number of days students completed 60 minutes of physical activity. And more than 50 percent of participants reported watching less television after introduction to a running club.
This data was collected from participants of the Summersville Elementary School running club, which launched their club in spring of 2016 and enrolled more than 100 participants during its six week program.
During the 2015-2016 school year, the CARDIAC project reported that 48 percent of West Virginia fifth graders are overweight, or obese. The CARDIAC project also found that 35 percent of second graders and 34 percent of kindergartners are overweight, or obese, while the national prevalence rate of obesity in the United States is roughly 17 percent.