Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Sponsors "Marathon Kids" Program for Chicago Public School Students
Innovating running/walking program challenges kids to complete 26.2 miles
Chicago, IL — Running a marathon is a big commitment, and this year roughly 5,000 Chicago Public School (CPS) kids from 14 different elementary schools will participate for the first time in an innovative running/walking program to show that they’re up to the 26.2 mile challenge.
Called Marathon Kids, the program is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BSBSIL) and helps children complete a marathon over the course of the school year in increments of a fourth or half mile at a time. Participants will typically run or walk during their school gym classes and keep track of their progress using a colorful mileage log. The log also helps them monitor what they eat, and gives tips about having healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables daily.
"Marathon Kids compliments our mission to support local efforts that promote health and wellness," said Dr. Scott Sarran, Chief Medical Officer at BCBSIL. "We are committed to making a positive difference in the communities where we live and work, and what’s more important than helping schools in your own neighborhood?"
To officially kick-off the program, there will be a free ceremonial family celebration at 10 a.m. November 8 at the Hanson Stadium, 5501 W Fullerton Ave, in Chicago. The stadium will be set up for a short race with a start and finish line, and teachers and volunteers will reward "marathon-running" kids for their efforts with prizes.
"I look forward to running with the students at the kick off event," Sarran said. "It’s important to recognize them for adopting healthy habits."
Kay Morris, Marathon Kids founder, echoes that thought.
"We’re happy to be working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois to get kids focused on learning how physical activity and healthy food choices go hand in hand," She said "After 12 successful years in other states, we’re excited to launch Marathon Kids in Chicago."
Chicago Public Schools data shows that students involved in organized physical activities perform better in school have higher graduation rates and also attend school more frequently than non active students. It is hoped that Marathon Kids will help the trend continue.
"Marathon Kids is an elegantly simple, proven offering, helping us to fulfill physical activity needs for our children, "says Denise Murphy-Stroud, physical education manager for CPS. "We have watched this incremental, habit-building offering resonate with thousands of children of all skills and sizes across the country in other urban areas."
Marathon Kids is a free six-month program for public and private school districts, home schools and private schools funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.
Marathon Kids is a 12 year old non-profit that began as a grassroots initiative. It is now in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Chicago, Texas Rio Grande Valley, Navajo Nation (Window Rock area). There were 122,000 registered USA elementary children in the 07-08 programs, with the average completion rate of 74%.
The non-profit is bracing for 155,000 registered Marathon Kids in 08-09. Marathon Kids target markets are those children most vulnerable to type 2 diabetes and sedentary lives. There are 300+ towns and cities on the Marathon Kids waiting list, as well as 14 foreign countries.
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For More Information Contact:
- Mary Ann Schultz, Senior Manager of Media Relations, (312) 653-6701, Maryann_Schultz@bcbsil.com
- Bridget Houlihan, (312) 653-4668, Bridget_Houlihan@bcbsil.com