Kids on Track — These kids are ready to tackle a marathon

By KaeLeigh Brown

This story is featured in the Summer 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

Something is moving across Mid-Missouri this summer. Thousands of little feet are counting up the miles as 1,091 kids run, walk, bike and even skip an entire marathon.

2013 Kids on Track participant Amanda Kurukulasuriya, 10, Mill Creek Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Amanda Kurukulasuriya, 10, Mill Creek Elementary.

These kids, ranging in age from two to fourteen, have all set the same goal: to complete a total of 26.2 miles by the summer’s end.

You may be thinking, “this sounds great, but what would motivate so many kids to do something most adults won’t even do?”

Well, thanks to Boone Hospital Center’s WELLAWARE and sponsorships from local businesses around Columbia, the participants have plenty of enticing incentives. As part of the program, the kids keep a log of their miles completed and as they reach certain mile marks along the way they are eligible for prizes.

The prizes are definitely worth the walk. Once the designated number of miles has been completed to redeem a prize, participants present their mile log to the sponsoring business and redeem their reward.

Kids on Track actually began in 2005. After a short hiatus, Boone Hospital decided to bring the program back last year, bigger and better than ever.

2013 Kids on Track participant Bradyn Gruenefeld, 6, Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Bradyn Gruenefeld, 6, Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary.

“We wanted to bring back a youth program for kids that focuses on building good exercise habits through their summer break,” said Erin Wegner, who coordinates Kids on Track.

So far the program has seen promising support from the community. When Kids on Track re-launched in 2012 participation nearly doubled. Then this summer, it nearly doubled again when 1,091 kids pledged to stay active over the summer.

Kids on Track began with a kickoff celebration on May 9 at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia. It was amazing to see hundreds of young kids beginning their 26-mile journey with their families by their sides. Despite the threatening rain everyone was excited about the event.

Tanith Frazier, 6, and her mother, Kristen Frazier, were among the families making memories that evening

2013 Kids on Track participant Tanith Frazier, 6, Shepard Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Tanith Frazier, 6, Shepard Elementary.

When asked if this was her first marathon Tanith answered, “Uh. This is my second one.”

This provoked a curious look and a laugh from her mother who was probably wondering when her daughter thought she ran the first one. After some deliberation Frazier said that she plans on biking the miles to complete her marathon.

Bradyn Gruenefeld, 6, also plans on biking his miles, but not all of them. When asked how he planned to finish his marathon Bradyn said he would, “probably bike, skip and that’s all.” Hopefully Bradyn is a good biker because skipping any number of miles might be a challenge.

Other Kids on Track participants like Abby Hinshaw plan on running

2013 Kids on Track participant Jonas Nazario, 7, Parkade Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Jonas Nazario, 7, Parkade Elementary.

their miles. Abby, 13, has big plans for staying active this summer. She is scheduled to run a half-marathon this month and is using the Kids on Track program as a training method.

While this is her first year participating, Abby really likes the idea of the Kids on Track program: “I think it’s pretty cool. I see all these little kids and I’m like, ‘go kids, go!’”

Erin Wegner shares that enthusiasm for the program. She thinks Kids on Track will be highly beneficial to its participants.

“For me, I feel the biggest benefit is starting their exercise routine young. When you look at adults trying to lose weight, they change their nutrition habits first before starting an exercise routine,” she said. “When exercise habits start younger that’s something they carry with them well into their adult life.”

Kids on Track is not just about exercise, it’s also about fun. The program rewards kids for staying active and they enjoy doing it.

This year’s Kids on Track program will conclude on August 8 with a grand finale at Stephens Lake Park. There the kids will receive t-shirts and trophies for completing their marathons.

You go kids!

2013 Kids on Track participant Jalen Morris, 4, Parkade Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Jalen Morris, 4, Parkade Elementary.

2013 Kids on Track participant Abby Hinshaw, 13, Smithton Middle School.

2013 Kids on Track participant Abby Hinshaw, 13, Smithton Middle School.

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