By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Lawndale Elementary students kicked off the third annual Mayor’s Marathon challenge on Monday by walking a mile around the track behind the school.
The program encourages city residents to run or walk the distance of a marathon – 26.2 miles – over the next 30 days, or to exercise at least 15 to 20 minutes each day during that span.
All of Tupelo’s kindergarten to sixth-grade schools, including Lawndale, will participate by logging miles in their physical education classes. Their parents, and all citizens, are also encouraged to join the effort to promote healthy living.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. joined Hank Boerner at Lawndale on Monday to tout the event’s kickoff. They encouraged the students to exercise and then joined them on the walking track.
“Hopefully this shows we’re consistent about it,” Reed said, noting the program’s third year. “We are starting with the youngest children in the school system and helping them lead the way.”
The students will all be given forms to log the number of miles they have run and walked during the month. They’re also encouraged to ask their parents to join the effort. Adults can enter their miles by going to http://letsgowalk inmississippi.com and clicking “Track My Progress” at the top of the screen.
“We are trying to encourage kids to always stay active,” said Boerner, the co-chairman of the Mayor’s Healthy Tupelo Task Force and director of the North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Center.
About 4,000 K-6 students participated last year, and Boerner said they expect about the same number this year. Those students will also be able to use this challenge to prepare for the TPSD Kids’ Running Festival, a one-mile run/walk that will be held on April 21 at Tupelo High School.
The race is open to all third- to sixth-grade students in the TPSD. Participants can sign up and pay the $3 registration fee through their school’s parent-teacher organization. It will begin at 9 a.m. at the THS practice field and will finish on the high school track.
“This will bring schools together from across the district,” said Lawndale PE teacher Bo Boatner, who has organized the race. “We hope to get a diversity of kids who participate.”