Originally published Dec. 27, 2019 in the Fond du Lac Reporter.

By Melanie Steinert

Students at Pier Elementary School ran or walked 10,000 miles, collectively this year, through the school’s new “Daily Mile” hybrid program.

“There is a great excitement about running in general. Even some teachers have begun walking with students which provides health benefits for them as well, but even more important is another opportunity to build relationships with their students,” said Physical Education Teacher, Stacy Cappozzo.

Cappozzo helped to pilot the program at Pier last year, after finding a website called the “Daily Mile” where a Scottish teacher discussed her success with getting her students to be more active. Unfortunately Cappozzo was unsuccessful in registering Pier for the program.

However, she soon discovered that a former-physical education teacher at Riverside Elementary, Gail Cameron, had started a hybrid Daily Mile program — called “Cardinal 100″ — and Cappozzo asked if Pier could adopt the program as well.

Pier tested the program with a few classes last year and after its success the Health and Wellness Committee introduced the program to the entire school for this school year.

“Everyone was great at getting it started. Physical activity can benefit students in so many ways from better health to better attention in class and more alertness,” said Cappozzo.

Students at Pier are motivated to run by prizes and competition. They get a token to put on a lanyard for every 10 miles ran.

“I post the top 100 students every week or two and that really gets some kids moving to get to a higher number on the list,” said Cappozzo.

Almost all classes go out to run/walk and have chips that detect how many miles students run.

“One mom told me at a PTO Meeting that her son is not even a runner and he comes home excited about how many laps he did each day,” said Cappozzo.

Staff at Pier said they have seen many benefits come from the program, including better focus on school work.

“I would like to think the program helps to keep our behavior management more manageable, as kids are more regulated with the healthy daily exercise. I love that it helps kids set goals, achieve them, have some healthy competition, get some exercise, think about their health, and hopefully set kids up for a lifetime of healthy choices,” said Jay Rauen, a third grade teacher. “It also seems to help with attendance. Some kids are here because they don’t want to fall behind in laps.”

Currently, four more Fond du Lac elementary schools have started the program following Pier and Riverside’s success.

“I am amazed at their (the students) interest in and dedication to the program,” said Pier Elementary Principal, Amy Jahn.

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