CHICAGO - Administrators in charge of school budget cuts have opted to ax physical education instead of academic programs. Experts, however, say non-activity affects classroom performance.
Now, a non-profit organization, led by one woman who can relate, is making sure kids keep moving to keep their grades up.
School days may be longer than ever, but it's afternoon and Miss Schoenecker's fourth grade class is still alert and ready to learn.
"I know that with a longer school day that they would have a really hard time focusing. It would be a challenge for me to get across what I need to and it would be a challenge for them to learn; so this helps to get out their energy so they are ready to learn," Ashley Schoenecker said.
They get their energy out by taking running breaks.
"We started Chicago Run in an effort to get our Chicago public school kids up and active and to instill the daily habit of physical activity," said Alicia Gonzalez, executive director of Chicago Run.
One in three children nationally are considered overweight or obese, which can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Children should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Just make sure your child or adolescent is doing three types of physical activity a week — muscles strengthening like gymnastics, bone strengthening such as jumping rope, and aerobic activity like running.
It's something Alicia Gonzalez knows firsthand. She is the executive director of Chicago Run, an avid runner, and she understands the positive effects running has on kids, especially in the inner city.
"I know what running did for me as a child. It was my ability to let loose. It was my way of de-stressing from some of the things I saw often in my neighborhood," Gonzalez said.
Now, she's motivating thousands of elementary and middle school kids to run their stress away, too, so they can feel good and focus on their future.
"I like running because it makes me feel really good," said Jackie Najera, a fourth grade student.
"It helps me learn more and study more," said Carlos Mayo, another fourth grade student.
Chicago Run has grown from serving 2,000 to 13,500 students in 45 Chicago public schools since the organization formed five-and-a-half years ago.
Gonzalez said many schools are interested in programs like Chicago Run due to the need for more physical activity during the school day and the implementation of new health and wellness policies at the district level.
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