Wellness Month’s Exercise Week: Middle Schoolers Stay Motivated Through the CGPS Running Program

Three years ago, the Middle School instituted physical education programming that would keep students healthy and fit while having fun. Spearheaded by Middle School physical education teacher Venus Cooke, the program is designed to use friendly competition to motivate students to get a jog in before gym class. 

The system is simple. Between bells, students have the chance to jog in the gym. From the time the first bell rings until the period bell sounds, students do laps around the gym. Each lap earns the students one popsicle stick. As the gym period starts, students do dynamic stretches such as high knees, side shuffles and karaoke steps to work on their balance, coordination and strength while Ms. Cooke counts their popsicle sticks. 

At the end of each month, the students’ popsicle sticks go towards the Physical Education Month Awards, which are awarded by distance (33 laps of the gym equals one kilometer). Students work towards earning the 5k, 10k, 15k and even the 20k awards by the end of the year -- the goal is to have run the distance of a marathon.

Ms. Cooke said that “it really has encouraged kids to get out there — some people have even joined the track team because of it. They are motivated to do exercise, so it’s fun.” Last year, someone had already run a full marathon by March! Check out the chart below to see what it takes to win various awards. The Goofy and Dopey Awards are especially difficult to earn and are coveted.

“Doctors and health professionals recommend that each person participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Exercise benefits every part of the body, including the mind. Studies have shown a link in people who exercise to have higher self esteem, a lowered risk of disease and better sleeping habits. The Middle School physical education program takes into account the important role exercise plays and is comprised a balanced routine including aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training,” Ms. Cooke said.