Friday, October 6, 2017

Build Community with School Fun Runs

Have you considered organizing a Fun Run for your school? These events build community spirit, enhance physical activity, and can even serve as school fundraisers.
Fun Runs are completely customizable to fit the needs of each school. You may choose to limit participation to only students. Or you may choose to have students, parents, and school faculty lace up their running shoes together. You can let participants walk, run, jog, or grapevine during Fun Runs – you’re limited only by imagination! Fun Runs can be themed, competitive 5k events, or shorter, more collaborative Mile Runs.
Webster Central School District in Webster, NY has been hosting an annual Fun Run for over 50 years. According to, the annual Webster Fun Run has become tradition, as well as a rite of passage, for the students of their community.
Kevin Sayers, physical education teacher at Plank Road North Elementary, has coordinated the event for the past decade. The mile run kick-starts the academic year by bringing 700 students together. “The idea is to encourage children to be active, how to be a competitor and spectator, and to encourage good sportsmanship, empathy, and camaraderie among students,” Sayers said.
According to (Part of the USA Today network),  “The annual (Webster Fun Run, in Webster, NY), in its 52nd year, is as much a tradition among Webster Central School District students as it is a rite of passage.  
Another veteran of Fun Runs, Stacey Brickman from West Bloomfield Hills, MI has organized several elementary and middle school Fun Run events. “A successful fun run accomplishes all the things a PTO tries to create all year. It builds school spirit, increases participation, raises school pride, and is a fabulous, fun whole-school event,” Stacey said. “We would have a fun run even if it didn’t raise money because it is a blast.”

How can you get started with school Fun Runs? Fitness Finders® offers a Challenge Series® program that provides easy to implement fun-run templates and awards.

The Challenge Series® is a youth running or walking program combined with imaginative monthly events and accompanying awards. The Series may be conducted as often as once a month, for nine months, just once a year or any number in between. The monthly challenges may be held during physical education classes, after school, at recess, as an active assembly, at a club/recreation setting, as a community Fun Run or part of an established community-wide run. The challenges permit young people to participate in a one-half to one mile run/walk or, on occasion, longer distances.

With the Challenge Series®, participation and completion are the focus and are rewarded. Everyone is a winner! Upon completing the specified distance, each young person receives a special award for the event. For example, a pumpkin is awarded for an October Pumpkin Run or a shamrock is provided for a March Shamrock Shuffle.

The Challenge Series is a powerful, event-driven activity that encourages young people to set a goal of walking/running a specified distance. But how could a Challenge Series® Fun Run serve as a school fundraiser?

We recommend organizing a Challenge Series® event monthly, with the September/October Fun Run functioning as a kick-off fundraiser, and the final Challenge Series® event in May as an End-of-the-Year fundraiser. Both of these Fun Runs could be opened to the public, and we recommend charging a moderate registration fee. Make sure you advertise these events as fundraisers, and if possible, specify your intended use for the money to generate excitement. Make it a fun, whole-school, community-wide affair!

You can also raise money by having people pledge dollar amounts per lap (or steps or miles), or you can have your Fun Run be part of a larger, carnival-type event that has a variety of onsite fundraising games and goodies to purchase. You are in charge, so your Fun Run can be anything you need it to be. But all Fun Runs are great at promoting physical activity and creating community spirit.

We would love to answer any questions you might have regarding Challenge Series® fun-runs and pricing. Please don’t hesitate to call 800-789-9255 or email for more information. Fitness Finders, Inc. is committed to Shaping America's Future® by providing effective motivational programs and awards designed to develop the body, mind and character of youth. We strive to provide practical and innovative solutions for physical educators, teachers and youth leaders.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Manage Your Classroom While Meeting Common Core Standards

With Fitness Finders’® new curriculum, Zooper Safari™, your students will embark on an exciting trek around the world, learning about positive classroom behaviors while meeting CCSS and NGSS standards. By appealing to students’ natural curiosity and love of animals, Zooper Safari™ introduces unique Featured Creatures that display Zooper Behaviors students will be excited to investigate, and then emulate in their personal choices. And by including CCSS and NGSS standards, Fitness Finders® is combining academic learning with classroom management to help teachers create a positive and successful learning environment.

Zooper Safari™ is all-inclusive!

The innovative Zooper Safari™ curriculum includes:

*9 Lesson Plans: Introductory Lesson, 1 Lesson covering each Zooper Behavior, and Review Lesson. Teachers who have a SMART Board or electronic white board will love our online, interactive lesson plans, with links to videos of Featured Creatures displaying the Zooper Behaviors in their habitats. Prefer teaching from paper? You’ll appreciate our economically printable black & white lesson plans. They include the video links, as well, so you can prepare ahead of time to share the information from the videos with your students, as desired.
*Hands-on Reinforcement Activities: Includes large group games for reviewing, a multitude of activities for Learning Centers, cute crafts you’ll love to display, yummy snacks that incorporate counting and shape recognition, large group brainstorming exercises that include individual writing prompts - and more.
*Student Materials: Includes grade-appropriate student journals or coloring pages, activity templates, and review games. All of the student materials (except the Zooper Safari™ Adventure Game Board) are designed to be printed in color OR black and white. YOU choose which materials to use, as well as the style and the amount to print!
*Zooper Safari™ Map: Students love seeing this colorful, 12-page map come together piece-by-piece as they complete their Zooper adventure.
*Unique Awards: Fitness Finders® has decades of research and experience motivating kids to set goals, adopt positive behaviors, and achieve. We’ve included LaceLink™ Lanyards, cool tokens, and charming stickers to help you create excitement and desire in your students to learn the information, transfer the behaviors, and become Zooper Explorers!

Zooper Safari™ is written BY teachers FOR teachers!

The Zooper Safari™ curriculum was written by teachers with decades of experience. The components of each lesson are consistent so that prep time may be simple and minimal. Each lesson is comprised of the following:

*Review: Information from the previous lesson is reviewed.
*Anticipatory Set and Lesson: Includes information about the Featured Creature, continent, and Zooper Behavior.
*Turn and Talk: Students reflect and share with one another something they’ve learned.
*Transfer and Reflect: Includes a read-aloud book recommendation with talking points to discuss the Zooper Behavior, as well as instructions on completing a grade level-appropriate student journal or coloring page, designed to enhance learning and sharpen writing skills.
*Summary: A quick restatement of the Zooper Behavior.
*Assessment & Award: Easily evaluate student learning; then encourage student participation by awarding our integral, fun rewards.
*Hands-On Reinforcement Activities: A variety of creative activities that continue the fun and learning.

At the end of each section and activity, you will find CCSS and NGSS standards that are met by that segment of the lesson. You simply enter the date in the box provided to record when each standard has been covered, making inclusion and documentation of these standards quick and easy. (There’s also space for you to write in any standards we may have missed!)

Fitness Finders® has been working with, and advocating for, teachers since 1974. We have teachers on our staff, teachers as our family and friends, and teachers in our community with whom we consult and support. We’ve seen a lot of trends, policy mandates, and political debates about education come and go. But one thing remains consistent – the passionate dedication to students that teachers bring to the classroom. Our goal for Zooper Safari™ is to meet a need we’ve heard expressed by teachers to address behavioral issues and academic standards, at the same time incorporating technology and appealing to students. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Running and Autism

Colin Nichols attends Hanover-Horton Elementary in Hanover, Michigan. Colin loves participating in his school’s Mileage Club®, and he runs – a lot. Colin completed 30 miles during Mileage Club® when he was in 1st grade. He more than doubled his mileage and racked up a total of 70 miles in 2nd grade. At the end of the season, when the school announced that he logged 70 miles (almost twice as many miles as the runner-up for the year), his classmates cheered wildly.

And that’s a big deal.

Colin has autism, and school has not always been an easy place for him. Colin’s mom, Carrie, commented that his classmates “have seen Colin at his worst.” Which made it even more meaningful that they witnessed his disciplined efforts, and celebrated that success with him. Carrie Nichols reflected that Colin showed signs of athleticism from a very young age, but PE class in school was stressful for him. Colin is easily overwhelmed by the chaos and activity of PE class and organized sports. But running gives Colin the physical release he needs, and gives him pride in his abilities. Colin’s mom also noted academic benefits from Mileage Club® for her son. Both she and Colin’s teacher observed that Colin would come back into the classroom from Mileage Club® much calmer and ready to learn, having released on the track his extra energy and pent up frustrations from the day.
Alison Wade wrote in an article published by, “In running, social interaction is common, but it’s not required for success. Running does not require mastery of complex techniques, intricate rules, or the principles of teamwork—but it does offer the opportunity to be a part of a team.”
Russell Lang, Ph.D., the executive director of the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation and Support at Texas State University in San Marcos, said that “Running, in general, is a community sport and lifetime activity that de-emphasizes social communication and emphasizes repetitive behavior. That lends itself well to alignment with the characteristics of autism.”
Tommy Des Brisay of Ontario also has autism, and began running when he turned 14. He now has dreams of making the 2020 Paralympic Team.
According to, “Within two years (of beginning road racing), he (Tommy) was near the front of the pack. The first time he won a race, he was confused about where everyone else was, so he went back up the course to run with each subsequent finisher and cheer for them as they crossed the line.”
Des Brisay, now 25, has personal bests of 15:17 for 5K, 1:10:34 for the half marathon, and 2:38:50 in the marathon. It’s not unusual for him to go blowing by his competition while reciting lines or singing songs from his favorite movies.
But when people marvel at what Tommy Des Brisay has been able to accomplish in spite of his autism, his mother prefers to ask, “What if it’s because of his autism that he’s this successful?”
“You can choose to look at autism as a disability or you can choose to look at it as a collection of abilities that can be celebrated,” she said. “There’s no doubt that for Tommy, part of his success as a runner has been his unfailing willingness or joy in training all the time. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t see it as a tedium of any kind to go forward and do the same workout. There’s a comfort for him in that. So I think for Tommy, his autistic tendencies are an advantage in a lot of things. One of those is his running.”
Which leads us back to Hanover-Horton Elementary. When I asked Colin what his favorite thing about Mileage Club® was, he didn’t mention the many tokens he’s earned, the Mileage Club ®t-shirt he won, or the applause from his classmates. He simply answered, “Running.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Children Dive into a Pool of Benefits by Learning to Swim

Three Reasons to Swim

·      Survival- “Only 56 percent of Americans can perform the five, core swimming skills1.” That’s nearly half our country that can’t swim! And over 70% of the world is covered with water. That percentage doesn’t include the thousands of swimming pools and even bath tubs around the world. (Did you know you can drown in just a few inches of water?!) Chances are that in a person’s lifetime, they’re going to encounter a situation that involves them being in or around water.

·      Physical Fitness- Swimming works both cardiovascular health and almost every major muscle in the body. You can also target certain muscles by doing different strokes or workouts such as leg lifts while using water resistance.
--On top of that, water will remove most of the natural stress on your bones and joints because of the lack of gravity. It’s one of the reasons that people use this activity for physical therapy.

·      Increase Overall Quality of life- When kids learn to swim, they decrease fear of being around water and have a chance to take part in so many new activities. These activities such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, etc. can bring joy and new experiences into their lives.
--Swimming also reduces stress! You get to give your brain a break by focusing on your exercise and staying afloat. Also, just like any other aerobic exercise it increases endorphins.

Fun Facts About Swimming

  • Elephants can swim as many as 20 miles a day — they use their trunks as natural snorkels!
  • Niagra Falls has enough water to fill up all the swimming pools in the United States in less than three days!
  • The bikini swimsuit was named after a U.S. nuclear testing site in the South Pacific called Bikini Atoll.
  • In butterfly stroke and breaststroke, swimmers need to touch the pool with both hands simultaneously when they finish. Swimmers touch the pool with only one hand when they finish in freestyle and backstroke swimming events.
  • An hour of vigorous swimming will burn up to 650 calories. It burns off more calories than walking or biking.
  • Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise because you are moving against the water’s resistance, which is over ten times that of the air.
  • Even the smallest world nations enjoy a thriving swimming pool industry (e.g. New Zealand pop. 4,116,900 [Source NZ Census 7 March 2006] - with 65,000 home swimming pools and 125,000 hot tub pools).
  • The slowest Olympic swim stroke is the breaststroke.
  • The fastest and most efficient swim stroke is the crawl/ freestyle.2

1Almost Half of America Can't Swim, Survey Says. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2015, from
2Games & Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2015, from

4Wood, E. (n.d.). The Art of Swimming - The Morning News. Retrieved July 1, 2015, from