Last year, Kathy Langdon, the health and wellness facilitator for Indianapolis Public Schools, had what she says, now, was a great idea. At the time though, she thought it might be a bit crazy.
She wanted to bring together students from 43 elementary schools for a giant field day, focused on physical activity. The district spent months preparing and organizing events, and encouraging schools to let students to participate.
Her efforts paid off. More than 9,200 kids showed up for a day filled with fun, physical activity.
“It was amazing,” Kathy said, “Everywhere I looked there was a student running or a group of kids jumping.”
One of her partners was RunJumpThrow (RJT), a program sponsored by The Hershey Company and USA Track & Field. The goal of RJT is to get kids excited about physical activity by introducing them to the basic skills of running, jumping and throwing – activities that comprise track and field events and that are foundational to nearly every sport.
There are two key aspects of the RJT program: one-time community events and a six-week, physical education learning program, designed to be easy for teachers to implement. Participation in all events is completely free. And the costs for organizers — in the community or in the classroom — are low too. The only equipment required is something to throw and if leaders want to set up hurdles — pizza boxes. Working with SHAPE America, more than 260,000 students now participate in Run Jump Throw activities at their school.
The RunJumpThrow activities at Kathy’s first field day were such a hit with students, teachers and principals, the community decided not only to begin using the program in all 43 of its elementary schools, but also to have another big event in the fall of 2015.
More than 850 students participated in a RunJumpThrow Take Over at Monument Circle, in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Volunteers led children through a series of stations including balancing, stretching, short races and mini hurdles, along with the challenges of sit-ups, push-ups and jumping activities.
“Providing a fun and healthy day for children is something we hope will extend into their entire school year,” USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel said.
It has. All 43 elementary schools in the Indianapolis school district now use RJT activities. Teachers appreciate how simple they are to use in physical ed classes.
“It’s been tremendous for the teachers,” Kathy said, “It’s doesn’t take much set up, it’s easy.”
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