Starting Line For Life-Long Benefits

Returning for its second run in Bosque County, Healthy Kids Running Series hopes to continue making strides toward establishing running a fun family affair this spring

CLIFTON – It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter with cold snaps, COVID-19 quarantines every now and then keeping us indoors. Now with the promise of a new spring, it is time to get up, get moving and get outside again. Joining up for the Bosque County Healthy Kids Running Series is the perfect way to start moving in the spring with a fun family affair.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that children and adolescents ages six through 17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily because it promotes health and fitness.

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

HKRS is a national, community-based non-profit that provides a fun, inclusive five-week running series for ages two-14, designed for kids to get active, feel accomplished and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Along with Long and all other community coordinators, Bosque County Healthy Kids Running Series organizer Renee Kettler believes the program encourages kids to adopt a “Get Up and Go” attitude.

“I am excited to continue this series in Clifton,” Kettler said. “I see so many positive things coming from the series and it is exciting to be a part of each success. I got messages from parents saying thank you. I am the one who is grateful – seeing the look on the kids faces as they beat their weekly time, simply cross the finish line or just show up to do something that challenges them. It makes the work worth it!”

HKRS also offers a challenger race. The challenger race is an all abilities race for children of all ages with special needs that may - or may not - need a little extra help on the course. As an exception, parents, aides or volunteers are welcome onto the course to help for this division. The challenger race is an untimed distance of 75 yards with all the same goodies – shirts, bibs, medals, high fives & goodie bags – just like all the other races.

After participating as a volunteer in a HKRS in Temple, Kettler decided to bring the all-inclusive, positive series to Bosque County. Kettler keeps her community informed and involved by posting photos, tips, reminders and more on the Clifton HKRS Facebook page. She also reaches out to all of the county schools to promote the event, has approached businesses and organizations for sponsorships and volunteers. That effort was recognized and she received the Outstanding Public Relations award for the Fall 2021 series.

“I was shocked and honored to be the recipient of the Fall 2021 Outstanding in Public Relations Award. WOW!,” Kettler said. “HKRS is supported through so many avenues in our communities it is so easy to be outstanding ... Let's do it again!”

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.

Many organizations involved in children’s health and heart health – like the Center of Disease Control,, 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

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.”

The runs are divided up into age groups, with two-three year-olds running a 50 yard dash; four to five year-olds run a 75 yard dash; Kindergarten and first-graders run a quarter mile, second and third graders run half a mile and finally, the fourth through eighth graders do the grueling one mile race

The supporters usually give some pointers at the beginning of the race like “find your pace,” “take your time,” and “don’t stop, keep running.” But it is the kids that finally make it happen. Improvement is the purpose of the five-race series. The smiles after the kids’ accomplishments say it all; as do the smiles on the proud parents’ faces. A fun thing is that on the fifth and final race day, parents get the opportunity to put their good advice to the test as they can sign up for the parents/supporters race to show what they’re made of themselves.

“We not only began strong last year, we grew in the fall to over 100 registered runners,” Kettler said. “In the fall we added the parent mile on the last race day. It was awesome to see 19 parents run that mile and show their kids they can challenge themselves, too. I have received so much support from the community that allowed us to add fruit to our race days, a port o potty for the kids so they did not have to go across the park to use the facilities, a speaker with microphone and so much more. With sponsorships we were able to add an arch finish line that was well received by the families.”

Registration is open for the Spring 2022 Running Series!! Early bird pricing is just $35 for all five races which includes a tee shirt and a medal. You will also receive a runners goodie bag and lots of high fives. Sign up for the Bosque County Healthy Kids Running Series through the dedicated Facebook page:

“I hope to continue growth in 2022,” Kettler said. “We have runners registered and sponsors are already committing to our spring series. I am adding flags on the course to give an added visual of the course lines. I hope to add more volunteers and cheers to the kids running – and I will bring back our parent mile. This spring we have added a weekly series with sponsor, Candice Barsh. Candice is a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer. She is giving tips and tricks to families for preparation of race day. The videos can be seen on our Facebook and Instagram.”

In her search for sponsors, Kettler reminds businesses and individuals, that sponsoring the series is a win-win for everyone. For a $250 sponsorship business information is shared on the Facebook and Instagram pages. Promotional business placards are placed at the finish of the races. Give-aways with business logos are added to the goodie bags the runners receive. Setting up a presence at the races is also possible. Additionally, businesses receive three entries to the races for their own children, employee children, friends, family or to give away.

Want to help a local 501(c)(3) organization that has the health and wellness of children at heart? Kettler asks people to consider a tax deductible donation to HKRS-Clifton, Tx! Those monetary donations help improve the series and offer the opportunity for scholarships for those who needing some financial assistance to register.

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


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