Children smile a lot when they run: UC-MMS students train for race
University of Charleston freshman are partnering with local elementary students to build a healthy future for the community as part of the UC Welch Colleague Half Marathon/5K to be held Saturday, March 19.
Nineteen UC First Year Experience Program participants have been training after school four days a week for the past two months with more than 70 Mountaineer Montessori School elementary students to get them ready for the 5K portion of the event.
Read the Charleston Gazette-Daily Mail article: UC-Mountaineer Montessori off to a running start
UC requires each class to plan and execute a service learning project within the freshman year. Professor Hallie Dunlap, assistant professor of social sciences, has led her section of freshmen as they work with young athletes to build fundamental jogging and running skills. The young MMS runners and their UC mentors will sport a custom UC/MMS combined t-shirt designed specifically to represent the program’s efforts.
The goal of this project collaboration is to encourage children to be active and live a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Varun Shah, Peer Educator for the University 102 section, says the group’s goal “is to bring awareness of a growing national problem, obesity.”
“We chose to do a Couch to 5K-type event because it would be a good stepping stone for living a healthy life. We chose to work with kids because they are the most impressionable group, and their habits would carry on work towards a healthier future.”
MMS, located at 308 20th Street in Kanawha City, has enjoyed a long collaboration with UC, its landlord and education partner.
The MMS students weren’t the only ones who are benefiting from this latest collaboration, says Chillag, sharing her observations:
- UC students didn’t imagine that they would grow to look forward to training sessions as much as they did – they began to understand that the MMS students counted on them and looked forward to seeing them and talk to them at scheduled times each week.
- UC students realized quickly that young children smile a lot when they run. We have speculated a lot about when we stop smiling and running and why that happens.
- The time together became more than just preparation about running the 5K, but about our time together and learning about one another.
- A lot of the MMS students were impressed that a number of UC student athletes were their trainers.
- UC students quickly noted that MMS students would not be deterred from running in inclement weather. At first, they emailed me, most certain that MMS trainings would be cancelled due to snow and rain only to realize that on those days, we had some of our biggest turn out in our after school training sessions. MMS and UC trainers trained through cold, rain, ice, and snow to now, finally, be training in the sunshine.
- I will say too that, as their professor, that this experience allowed me to get to know my students in a different way. It expanded the opportunity for me to experience the students – some of my students who are the most quiet inside the classroom are the most enthusiastic and boisterous in the training sessions. I found it easier as well to get some students to trainings than class.
- Lastly, it is well understood that keeping kids active and at a healthy weight (and never gaining unnecessary weight) is the best recipe for life long health. Walking and jogging and running is an easy thing to do almost anywhere and it costs very little. We hope to establish habits with MMS children for lifelong health.
- Hallie Chillag Dunlap, UC Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org; 304-553-2437(mobile, voice or text)
- JoEllen Zacks, MMS, email@example.com; 312/622-3008 (cell/text)
ABOUT THE UC WELCH COLLEAGUE HALF MARATHON/5K:
The University of Charleston will host the second annual Welch Colleague 5K and Half Marathon Races on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
The races will start at the University’s MacCorkle Avenue location, with the Half-Marathon beginning at 8 am and the 5k following at 8:15 am.
The Welch Colleague program is designed to amplify the leadership abilities of UC students. Senior Colleagues within the capstone level of the program carry out a community engagement project each year to exemplify their acquired leadership skills.
This years’ race was designed to be the only spring half marathon held in the Charleston/Huntington area, and features many unique components, all developed by students.
Certification of the course by the USATF
Local companies employed for the manufacturing of our award medals
Involvement with local elementary school students to get students to participate in the race to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
The race medals were designed by local master potter, Julie Wingard of Fayettville, WV. The medals are glazed clay cutouts of WV, with a UC Half Marathon logo pressed in the center. Additionally, Hallie Dunlap, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Charleston, and her University 102 students are working in collaboration with Mountaineer Montessori School to coach elementary students in preparation for the 5K event. UC and MMS students will continue to train together, four days each week, up until the date of the race.
Additional information can be found at http://www.uchalfmarathon5k.com/#!shop/cz1e.