Char Valley students partake in Kids of Steel program
For students at Chartiers Valley, running roughly 26 miles since the start of 2019 through the Kids of Steel program was one word: Amazing.
Roughly 220 students from the district’s primary, intermediate and middle schools partook in the P3R Kids of Steel program, where students participate in trainings that gets them ready for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon race weekend.
To test their skills and finish their marathon, students from Chartiers Valley primary and intermediate schools partook in the one-mile Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon on May 4.
A group of Chartiers Valley middle schoolers ran in the UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5K Run that day.
“I just do it because it’s really fun,” said Anthony Shipton, 8, a second grader who has participated in Kids of Steel at Chartiers Valley for three years.
Parent Steph McFerron brought the program to Chartiers Valley Primary School five years ago when her son, Kenny, was in second grade. They started with just a small group of kids, said second grade teacher Shelley Territ, who ran the program at the school this year.
McFerron’s family had participated in the kids marathon in previous years and found they got stuck in the last heat, behind all the other schools, she said.
She volunteered to help bring the program to Chartiers Valley, “knowing how running changed my life,” she said.
“My favorite thing to tell the kids is that running breaks all barriers,” McFerron said in an email. “Race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, none of it matters when you toe that start line. Runners of all walks of life support others and I love being able to expose the kids to that sort of environment.”
McFerron, mom of third grader, Anna and now sixth grader, Kenny, has brought the program to the intermediate and middle schools, as her children grew up.
Each year, kids are coming back and more are signing up.
This year, at the primary school, they opted to move the practice runs from after school to 8 a.m. on Wednesdays. That meant the 120 kids — or about 10 percent of the school population — was getting to school 30 minutes early to run once a week, Territ said.
Each week, there was a theme: Going to the beach, winter time or sports. It got the kids excited.
They showed up happy, with smiles on their faces, she said.
“It makes you stronger,” said Logan Frank, 8, a second grader who has participated in Kids of Steel for three years. He notes that he’s gotten faster and it helps him in other sports.
Staff members and parents all are always there to help.
“It takes a village,” Territ said.
The runs are open to any student. It provides a space for students who might not participate in other things to come together.
They watched as students made Kids of Steel friends and went out after school to run with their families.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” Primary Principal Anissa Rosenwald said. “
School leaders have seen a difference in student performance and behavior in the classroom on days they’re running.
“Research shows that if you get the kids moving early in the morning, that you’re firing those neurons, you’re getting things moving. They’re making connections,” Rosenwald said. “Attention is so much better after they have this activity in the morning… Behaviors of many of our students were much more calm on those days.”
This summer, when kindergartners come for screenings at the primary school, leaders plan to start introducing families to the Kids of Steel program that day.
“Something must be sticking because they return year after year and as my son moved up through the schools, we have been able to bring and develop it at each one,” McFerron said.