Elementary school students across Edmonton have been preparing for a big race — one that’s designed to strengthen their bodies and minds.
Norwood School Grade 5 student Cardin Lieu will be running five kilometres on Saturday. He’s got a game plan ahead of the big day.
“I’m going to start off with jogging. When I get towards the end, then I’ll start sprinting,” Lieu said. “I enjoy the running because I’m not that fast, but this year, my running skills are up a level. Then I’ll hang out in the grass and read.”
The event is part of Start2Finish, a weekly after-school program.
Listen below: Edmonton students train mind and body in annual run.
Gary Goulden, a club director of Start2Finish, explained how it works.
“Kids grab a snack and we launch into the program,” Goulden said. “It’s fitness activities, running and games. The second half of the program we’re working on literacy activities, so they record things in a journal and read.
For Lieu, his goal is to complete the full distance of the race.
Grade 5 Norwood School student Satimetou Abdellahi is also participating in her first year of Start2Finish.
She said her brain and body are stronger, after usually being a “slowpoke.”
“Now I’m a little bit faster,” she said. “We all used to run for 10 minutes. Now, I can run for way longer.
“I also feel more confident reading to people. I help other people with their reading too, almost all the time.”
Goulden has earned himself a bit of a reputation at Norwood School.
“Coach Gary loves burpees,” Abedellahi laughed.
Norwood School teacher Susan Strebchuk said the school has been involved in the program for more than nine years.
“The program has had a tremendous impact on our kids reading. their interest and reading levels and goal-setting,” she said. “We have some amazing coaches that come back every year. It’s a powerful difference for the kids to see adults that care for them.”
Start2Finish was created by former Edmonton Eskimo Brian Warren, who wanted to use fitness and literacy to help lift kids out of poverty.
Watch below: Extra-curricular sports can cost families thousands, which puts them out of reach for many. Start2Finish tries to fill that void. Laurel Gregory explains.
“Your whole life as an athlete is focused on you,” Goulden said. “In their life after athletics, they decided they wanted to give back. Brian’s focus was helping kids in lower socio-economic neighbourhoods with their education
“It morphed into having this weekly program in place in 50 schools across Canada.”
Four schools in Edmonton currently participate in Start2Finish. Norwood School will join Delton School, John A. McDougall School and Belvedere School in the race.
“We see a greater self-confidence in the kids,” Strebchuk said. “Each year, we talk a little bit about how much faster you’ll do the run. I see kids who have joined us when they were very little and now are junior leaders.
“They are engaged with games and their physical literacy and reading has improved.”
The big run will be held Saturday in Sherwood Park.