We all know how valuable physical activity is in order to remain healthy for a long, happy life, but starting young is key to long-term success. Kids Run Miami is a youth running program implemented in Miami-Dade County where middle school students are invited run a total of 25 miles over 15 weeks in their physical education class or after school. The final 1.2 miles is run at the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon where the kids will cross the same finish line as the 25,000 runners from over 80 countries. This program instills healthy habits and promotes a healthy lifestyle to our youth through a fun, voluntary and collaborative experience.

WHY?
Our mission is to create an atmosphere that encourages and promotes a healthy lifestyle among our youth in a goal-oriented, non-competitive setting. Through camaraderie and a consistent schedule of running, we hope to teach them why it’s important to remain physically active throughout their lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 17% of kids ages 2-19 are obese (12.7 million), and only about 25% of adolescents in Florida engage in daily physical activity. Through implementation of this program within our school systems, we have the potential to lower childhood obesity rates and increase daily physical activity rates among our youth in a swift and consistent fashion. Additionally, recent research in a Running Times article and the research-based SPARK organization has shown that physical activity fosters improvement in academic performance among young individuals.

HOW?
The privately-funded Kids Run Miami program lasts about 15 weeks starting in October of each school year which allows the kids to run a total of 25 miles before the Final Mile Event in January. Students complete about a mile per week at the start of the program, and incrementally lengthen their runs each week. Teachers and/or coaches volunteer to lead the running program at their schools along with the support from the principal. These leaders facilitate this consistent and goal-oriented running program for the students and work closely with our Kids Run Miami coordinator for support and information throughout the program.

WHEN/WHERE?
The 2016 Kids Run Miami Final Mile takes place on Sunday, January 24 at 11 a.m. on the corners of NW 2nd St. and NW 2nd Ave. There will be complimentary participant shirts, race bibs and water for each student as well as start line music and entertainment. The students will cross the same finish line as the other 25,000 Miami Marathon & Half Marathon participants on Biscayne Bay Boulevard between E Flagler St. and NE 1st St. Medals, food, water and entertainment will be provided after the race, before the students head back to their respective schools.

WHAT ELSE?
We will hold a Miami Marathon VIP Party on Friday, January 22 where all participating teachers will be honored and three select schools will be presented with an award in the following categories: Largest presence, appreciated newcomer and most spirited. Without the support of the teachers, coaches, school principals and Dr. Jayne Greenberg (Miami- Dade County Public School Director of Physical Education & Health Literacy) this program would not be as successful and enjoyable as it is today. We truly appreciate the time and effort these individuals put in during the academic year, and could not do it without their hard work and commitment to improving the health of our youth!