SIOUX CENTER—Children have been getting a running start on good health habits thanks to a club started by Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
Since June, after school was released, a free weekly running club has been held, meeting in the evenings at Sioux Center's Children’s Park, said Stephanie Van Ruler, a nurse health coach and population health manager with Promise.
She’s also been one of the leaders for the running club.
In total, about 15 kids have participated in the group, ranging in age from 5-12.
Some joined just for the love of being a part of something, according to Van Ruler.
“I had a couple of neighbor kids who would walk over to my house and come with me every week. They were there faithfully at 6:15 on my doorstep,” she said.
Each week had a different emphasis for the kids.
“We taught them the proper breathing techniques with running,” she said. “It shows them that it’s fun to get out there and move. There were some weeks were we did follow the leader and they each got to take turns being the leader around the park and neighborhoods.”
They also had obstacle courses where the kids had to hop and jog, and they’ve had sessions where they switch between walking and jogging every few minutes.
This run club has been an important method of getting kids excited for physical activity, Van Ruler said.
“September is National Childhood Obesity Month,” Van Ruler said. “That was kind of where we started to get the idea of what is something we can do to get families and kids out there, get them moving and show them that activity and healthy lifestyles can be fun. That’s kind of what prompted us to do the event initially.”
She added, “We want kids to see that being active and doing these things is really fun. It doesn’t have to be scary or hard, and you don’t have to be a certain type of person to be a runner. You can just get out there and do it and have fun.”
The club began as an offshoot of the Healthy Heroes 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk. Last year, they had what they called a 5K champion, somebody they worked with once a week to get ready for doing their first 5K.
“This year, we decided to do a weekly running club,” Van Ruler said.
Healthy Heroes event
This year will be the second year that Promise is teaming up with Sioux Center Health to host the Healthy Heroes 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk event. It’s scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Children’s Park.
Everybody, no matter their fitness level is encouraged to attend.
“Healthy Heroes Run & Walk is a family event,” Van Ruler said. “There is something for everyone whether you are a competitive runner, running your first 5K or walking as a family to get moving. We will have local resources and information available at the event for how to start or continue healthy habits as a family.”
The timing and purpose of the event is to promote healthy lifestyles. Van Ruler said they selected a date in September during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month because they wanted to promote awareness about the dangers of childhood obesity and the positive effects of wellness for both children and adults.
The event is more than just a run and walk, it’s a full-fledged health fair. Several community organizations will have booths with a wide array of educational, interactive and fun activities for the whole family ranging from storybook walks to superhero photo booths.
“We want to give people the tools they need to start moving and having healthy habits as a family,” Van Ruler said.
In doing so, they will become “Healthy Heroes.”
Fitting with the theme, running and walking participants are encouraged to be creative and dress up as a superhero. Prizes will be awarded for the “Best Dressed” superhero costume.
“Choosing health is a superpower,” Van Ruler said. “Starting healthy habits early in life sets our kids up for success and health as they grow.”