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Laurel Elementary School Principal Freddie Chavarria high fiving students as they run laps (file photo)

Move Your Feet Before You Eat! Foundation Inspires Kids to be Fit in Oceanside Schools

Oceanside CA— The Carlsbad –based Move Your Feet Before You Eat!® Foundation(MYFBYE Fdn) has found a tool that keeps students running before, during and after school. The physical and mental health benefits are now measurable with the Student Lap Tracker program. Teachers and parents love how effective the program has been in giving immediate positive reinforcement for activity to the students, with significantly less manual efforts on their part.

Funds raised by the PMCU O’side Turkey Trot/Move Your Feet before You Eat!® Fdn. are supporting the programs at Temple Heights, San Luis Rey, Laurel, Libby, South Oceanside, Foussat and Mission Elementary Schools in Oceanside. These schools are using the Student Lap Tracker program, often in tandem with school running clubs and PE classes, with fabulous results.

Temple Heights started the program in 2016 with over 600 students participating.  Kim Morton, principal at Temple Heights Elementary School, said the school is committed to developing children both intellectually and physically, and that a daily running club and the Student Lap Tracker help achieve those goals.

“The idea is to develop the ‘whole’ child, and part of that equation is physical activity,” Morton said. “As a staff last year, we decided to focus on three ‘WIGs,’ or Wildly Important Goals. The three categories we chose were reading, attendance and running. Each student has a binder to track their running goals. We create partnerships for accountability. It’s collaborative – they help each other. We’re even thinking of building a new running track at the school.”

Since 2014, Principal Freddie Chavarria and a group of teachers, including Meredith McCain, have spearheaded the running efforts at Laurel Elementary. The Chargers previously gave them a $30,000 grant for a track, which was installed in 2015. In 2017, the MYFBYE Fdn covered all costs associated with the Student Lap Tracker program. The first few weeks of the program have over 160 students participating in the run club.

The Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation has been providing Mileage club kits, charms and cash donations for the past 11 years to support in-school running programs. It wasn’t until the utilization of the Student Laptrackers that participating levels have soared.

The Student Lap Tracker program, developed by a San Diego-based company, provides teachers a tool to measure student distance running, allowing them to record distance and times through a unique technology. Students carry their Lap Tracker ID card when running, they present it to the teacher upon completing the run, and the vital statistics are loaded into a private data base for teachers and students to monitor progress. Class results are posted on a weekly basis.

Jim Patriquin, founder and CEO of Student Lap Tracker, said that the company sees the technology as a tool for positive reinforcement.

“We help the kids create and reach their goals in a fun, easy-to-understand way,” Patriquin said. “Beyond the physical benefits, studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity every day can help students achieve better academic results. Running helps with focus, and the Student Lap Tracker helps kids focus on their running.”

“It’s important to us that kids and adults run or be active every day, not only at Thanksgiving,” said Kathy Kinane, director of the Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation, and founder of the Pacific Marine Credit Union O’Side Turkey Trot. “Physical activity is an important lifelong pursuit for everyone. By getting the kids started early, in programs such as this, they can see that running is fun, helps you relax, concentrate in the classroom and improves your physical and mental health every day.”

More than 9,000 runners and walkers from 46 states are expected to participate in the 12th Annual Pacific Marine Credit Union O’side Turkey Trot and kids run set for Thanksgiving Day, November 23. The event is presented by Tri-City Medical Center and will feature a Senior 1 Mile on Wed. Nov. 22.

The 10k run and 5K run/walk will kick off at 6:55 a.m. and 8:05 a.m. respectively, starting on historic Highway 101 at the Civic Center (located at 330 N. Coast Highway) and finishing on The Strand just south of the iconic Oceanside Pier. A 5K walk begins at 8:35 a.m. All races feature live entertainment along the courses.

The family-oriented event also includes one- to ¼-mile kids runs starting at 10:30 a.m., and a 3-day expo. New this year, the O’side Trot will have a $1,000 Costume Contest prize purse.

Runners and walkers can also form teams. More than 50 teams participated in the 2016 event.

New this year, the top 10 teams with the most members receive $100 gift certificates from 333 Pacific, a steak and seafood restaurant in Oceanside. Older runners are invited to participate in the Tri-City Medical Center Senior Mile the day before Thanksgiving.

Entrants can designate part of their entry fees to support local schools and non-profits. The PMCU O’side Turkey Trot has raised more than $270,000 for its participating charities.

For more information, to register or to volunteer, please visit www.osideturkeytrot.com or call (760) 434-5255.

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