Healthy Kids, Healthy Future

ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO! Kettler initiates Healthy Kids Running series in Bosque County, encouraging running for life-long benefits

Often used as a motto for fitness clubs, health organizations, military units and schools, “Mens sana in corpore sano” represents a Latin phrase usually translated as "a healthy mind in a healthy body” or “a sound mind in a sound body.” It could also be used as a slogan for the Healthy Kids Running Series community coordinator Renee Kettler is organizing for Bosque County youth this spring.

Healthy Kids Running Series was created by Jeff Long, to motivate kids to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through a positive introduction to the world of running. To combat increasing rates of childhood obesity in America, Long designed a running program that provides a fun environment and builds self-esteem.

Along with Long and all other community coordinators, Kettler believes the program encourages kids to adopt a “Get Up and Go” attitude – Mens sana in corpore sano.

HKRS is a national, community-based non-profit that provides a fun, inclusive five-week running series for ages 2-14, designed for kids to get active, feel accomplished and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

After her mother had a heart attack and several surgeries, Kettler wanted to become healthier for herself and her family – her husband and two sons. In 2016, she started on the path to a healthier lifestyle, which included changing her diet – exchanging starches for veggies, eliminating fried foods – joining a local Camp Gladiator and adding running.

After the first not-so-successful run, Kettler realized she needed to “learn how to run,” to control her breathing, to pace herself. She now considers herself “a runner,” regularly running 5K races, half marathons and even full marathons. And with all that running Kettler found a supporter and sponsor in the Beef Council. Another avid supporter of her running is her Dachshund Lily, who enjoys running alongside her human, enjoying the exercise, the outdoors and all the attention she gets in her snazzy Beef Council attire.

One Sunday after returning from a 5k race, Kettler stopped in Temple to see what HKRS was all about. Even though she had enough things on her plate with her work, family and many other volunteer projects, Kettler fell in love with the program, thanks to a five-year-old girl Eleonore. Eleonore was struggling to finish the race, mainly because she hadn’t paced herself. With Kettler’s help, Eleonore finished the race and had a huge sense of accomplishment – one that she had finished the race, and two, that she wasn’t last.

On the last Sunday of the series, it was Eleonore that was cheering on her parents in the parents one-mile race, asking them if they needed help finishing. She had overcome her obstacles to the point she was confident in sharing her knowledge and experience with others.

“Improvement is the purpose of the five-race series,” Kettler said. “Week five, Eleonore ran alone, after some pointers at the beginning of the race like ‘find your pace,’ ‘take your time,’ and ‘don’t stop, keep running.’ It was so neat to see her sense of accomplishment.”

With Temple being the closest location to Bosque County offering the series, Kettler decided to bring the all-inclusive, positive series to Bosque County. She has reached out to all of the county schools to promote the event, has approached businesses and organizations for sponsorships and volunteers.

“I would love to see 100 kids sign up,” Kettler said. “If you miss a race, it’s not a problem. And you can join up at any time.”

As the community liaison for Texas-New Mexico Power, Kettler organizes the corporate volunteer efforts, so she has a lot of corporate support. The series also falls into the corporate mission to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

Regular physical activity in children and adolescents promotes health and fitness. Many organizations involved in children’s health and heart health like the Center of Disease Control, Kidshealth.org, M.D. Anderson and the Texas Pediatric Society agree: Physical activity has a domino effect – Kids who are physically active on a regular basis are less likely to become overweight or obese.

  • Kids who are obese when they are adolescents have a 70% chance of being obese for the rest of their lives
  • Nearly 35% of all Texas kids are overweight or obese
  • obesity adds risk factors for various health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes
  • Kids who are physically fit have higher self-esteem
  • Physical activity has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition (e.g., academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression
  • physical activity increases bone health and improves sleep quality
  • Kids who value physical fitness and healthy lifestyle are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as underage drinking, smoking, illicit drug use and violence

Typically, schools provide many opportunities for children to participate in various team and individual sports. But with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions and schools closed for longer periods of time, regular PE sessions were not part of the forced homeschooling curriculum.

Joining up for the Bosque County HKRS is the perfect way to start moving on a regular basis again. The HKRS helps youth learn how to run and to learn to love the physical activity, developing friendships, and the competitive element – if only to better their own personal times each run; and to never quit. One of the program’s slogans is “Run when you can. Walk if you have to. Crawl if you must. Just never give up.”

Kettler intends to build the event, making it bigger and better each year.

Facts about the Bosque County Healthy Kids Running Series: Running events will be held on five consecutive Sundays, April 11, April 18, April 25, May 2, May 9 beginning at 3 p.m. at the Clifton City Park located at 401 E. 2nd Street in Clifton.

Participants can receive an Early Bird Discount for $35 until three weeks from start date $ 35. After March 21, cost will be $40 for the full series or $10 per race. Scholarships are available. Participants in the full series will receive Tech T-shirts, goodie bags and a medal for all runners in week 5.

Sign up for the Bosque County Healthy Kids Running Series through the dedicated Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=healthy%20kids%20running%20series%20-%20clifton%20tx or https://runsignup.com/Race/TX/Clifton/HKRSCliftonTX

For more information, reach out to Kettler at 254-386-7358 or check out the organization’s website at https://healthykidsrunningseries.org/

“Mens sana in corpore sano” is ascribed to the Latin satirist and poet Juvenal. The whole excerpt from his “Satire X” is:

Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,

and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts

that can endure any kind of toil,

that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks

the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than

the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.

What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;

For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS & courtesy of RENEE KETTLER & HEALTHY KIDS RUNNING SERIES

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