Most every school morning by 8:45 a.m., 55 students, from kindergarteners to fifth-graders, sign in for Running Club at Heritage Elementary. By 8:50 the field is set and they start their run. Sometimes they run relay races or uphill sprints. Sometimes they run a third or a half-mile for time. Sometimes they play a cone game, capture the flag or “sharks and minnows.” Sometimes they run as far as they can in six minutes. And they do it all under the guidance of Dr. Mark Mollica, the Running Club coordinator and Heritage Elementary school psychologist.
"I like that Dr. M tries to make it harder for us and sets challenges,” said fourth-grade runner Kayla Robinson. “It’s good to have something new to try.”
“You can learn to do stuff for yourself and it pushes us to improve,” added fifth-grade runner Mauricio Amaro.
“It helps me in school because I know that I can do more than I think I can,” added Robinson.
When Mollica started the Running Club, he believed students would discover insights about themselves and develop healthy habits and positive traits, including speed, strength, confidence, sustained attention, emotional regulation and perseverance.
“But those sorts of ‘learnings’ aren’t what keeps them coming out every day,” said Mollica. “They keep coming out because they just love to run! And that, of course, is the greatest experience they could have – a true, ongoing love experience.”
That love of running was part of the reason Dr. Lovett Elango, a doctor with Kaiser Permanente and father of one of the runners, suggested Heritage apply for one of Kaiser’s “Healthy Schools” grants, to provide good running shoes for all of the students.
“So we applied and won a $2,500 grant,” said Mollica. “Then, Gina Mee, Manager of the Nike Outlet Store in Castle Rock joined in and made sure all the runners got the same style shoes.”
The shoes were passed out during Running Club on April 29.
“They feel like running shoes and that’s awesome,” said Amaro.
“They made me feel like I was in the air because I was so fast,” added third-grader Harry Freitag.
The students have already put a few miles on their new shoes, and plan to keep running all summer long.
Posted May 6, 2014.