By Cindy Lapeña
The PEI Marathon and the UPEI Alumni Association is launching the UPEI Panther Cubs Running Club at the start of this school year 2016-2017. The program is a joint effort “to encourage kids to be more active and be part of a healthy community, while participating in an event that introduces them to the University as potential future alumni,” says Anthony Gill, Manager of Alumni Engagement for the UPEI Alumni Association.
When Gill brought up this idea with incumbent president Alicia Bremner, she immediately responded with an enthusiastic “It’s such a positive thing—just do it!” And do it, he did. As the proud father of two, Gill personally looks forward to this new running program, which will be implemented in schools through the cooperation of Physical Education teachers, who will be provided with a complete UPEI Panther Cubs Running Club Kit.
The program is simple: students run in school—whether during breaks or after school—over 10 weeks leading up to the marathon. Their mini runs are marked on progress charts with custom-made reward stickers. The final stretch will be run as a separate event before the Kids Spud Run on October 15, 2016 at the UPEI track. The total distance each participant runs will be equal to a full marathon and every kid who completes the run will receive a certificate and the satisfaction of knowing they have run 42 km, started a healthy habit, and are on their way to developing an active lifestyle. The school with the most number of participants completing the final run will also receive a prize.
Championing the project on the school end is Physical Education teacher Stan Chaisson with the help of the PEI Physical Education Association. As a Physical Education teacher in K-12, he believes running “helps students realize the importance of daily exercise and wellness…in their lives in school and beyond. Running…allows kids to be active at their own pace, set goals, meet friends, and learn…[to live] a well balanced life. Also, starting an activity like running tends to spark other positive changes such as healthy eating, better sleep patterns, and a more stable mood.”
According to Race Director Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, the PEI Marathon has been trying to get kids more active since its inception, by creating the Kids Spud Run. “We have been looking for ways to involve more kids in schools and are glad to finally launch this program in collaboration with the UPEI Alumni Association.” In more ways than one, it is the PEI Marathon’s way of reaching out and giving back to the community because it is an investment in the future generations of PEI.
PEI Marathon Manager Amanda Vickerson says, “It doesn’t cost the school or the teachers anything. They only have to implement the program, as they will be provided with a complete package to motivate the students and track their progress.” Event coordinator and artist Cindy Lapeña designed the custom PEI Marathon stickers and the UPEI Panther Cub School Program Logo. For more information on the UPEI Panther Cub School Program and the PEI Marathon, please visit www.peimarathon.ca or call 902-316-2299.
Teachers or schools who wish to participate in 2017 should contact the PEI Marathon.
Cindy Lapeña is an award-winning playwright, author, artist, and sole proprietor of Arts ‘n’ Words Studio & Gallery. She also owns and manages The Writing Pool, an online resource for writers. She is writing a series of feature articles for the 2016 PEI Marathon.