Fifteen & Fit Program Motivates Students to Get Moving

When Stephen Pino became principal at Algodones Elementary School in the Bernalillo Public School system in New Mexico, he brought with him an appreciation for physical education and promoting a healthy breakfast.

Pino started a Fifteen and Fit School Running and Walking Program last year to help get students motivated in the morning. Aptly named, the program gives the entire elementary school, about 200 students, 15 minutes to walk or run in the morning. Many members of the Algodones staff and administration also take the time to get in some morning exercise, accompanying the students every morning.

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For about a mile, students and adults walk or run through beautiful back roads in the New Mexico countryside, lined with cottonwood trees and farms with cows.

Fighting childhood obesity is a passion for Pino, also the owner of a non-profit running company called RunFit that organizes runs to combat childhood obesity. RunFit launched the spring of 2006 as a bold initiative aimed at curbing the epidemic of childhood obesity by creating a running and/or walking program for children at after-school (or before school) programs across the district. The program is provided free to public and private elementary schools, as well as home schools.

Pino has seen that both students’ and teachers’ health has improved, with many noticing weight loss. This school-wide fitness program also ties in with the new Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program that the school implemented last year.

According to Food Service Director Dean Gallegos, the run not only motivates the students and gives them a chance to exercise in the morning, but it also pumps them up for the BIC program. Students fuel up on great items like fresh fruit, yogurt parfait, cereal, bagels, breakfast burritos, etc. According the principal, adding both programs does not effect instructional time; students get exercise and a nutritious breakfast and mornings have become motivational times at Algodones Elementary.

Bags are color-coded as to what its contents are for BIC, bringing nutritious breakfast options to students in Bernalillo Schools (NM).

Pino said that students who arrive late are often offered a version of the school wide fitness program walk/run to give them an option as well – sometimes in the school gym or around the school grounds.

Since the implementation of BIC and the Fifteen and Fit School Running and Walking Program, participation in breakfast has greatly increased. Pino had implemented the program at his former school, and after witnessing its success thought it’d be a great addition to Algodones Elementary. Both students and administration seem to love it!

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