Originally published June 22, 2023 in the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal.
By Amy Moritz
As they completed their laps around the track on a warm Wednesday morning, the students at Anna Merritt Elementary School strutted their individual style.
Some ran like controlled, seasoned runners while others dashed off at the starting horn with a bit too much energy. Some alternated running and walking while others strode determinedly to the finish line.
Regardless of their approach, this last day of school sent kindergarteners through fourth graders into summer with a finisher’s medal and a sense of how fun fitness can be.
The Kids Run at School capped off this year’s Fitness for Kids Challenge at Anna Merritt. The program, offered to schools throughout Western New York by the Independent Health Foundation, is a free community-wide initiative focused on helping children learn and practice healthy habits.
Throughout the school year, students participate in challenges around physical activity and good nutrition choices, along with learning tools to strengthen social and emotional health.
“The more fun and excitement we can infuse into learning about fitness, nutrition and our overall health, the better our chances will be in getting kids to enjoy keeping themselves healthy and strong,” said Brittny Smith, physical education teacher at Anna Merritt. “Sending information home so families can participate in activities and challenges as well, brings everyone together to reach the same goal — lifelong health and wellness for a better quality of life.”
While this was the 12th year Anna Merritt participated in the Fitness for Kids Challenge, it was the first year they incorporated the Kids Run at School, which offers the opportunity for students to run a 3K in the style that best fits their school culture and structure.