It’s always fun for runners to choose routes where the scenery is interesting and there is a lot to see. For children with disabilities, this can be difficult to accomplish during the course of a school day.
Achilles Kids: Run to Learn program was developed in 1995 by Achilles International. In 2008, working with elementary education curriculum specialist Keri Schindler, we added a formalized curriculum plan. The program consists of a series of physical and educational activities that integrate educational challenges and games with running, walking, rolling, or other forms of movement to encourage and motivate children to participate in regular physical activity.
It is based on a real 26.2 marathon, but done virtually. In a year-long gym activity, children do a number of laps each week. The laps are counted and converted into miles, and then charted as a 26.2 mile route on a map of their town. While the children are tackling the long-term accomplishment of completing the marathon, they are also realizing short-term achievements based on meeting weekly goals.
But the program goes far beyond the physical accomplishment of achieving their distance goals. It incorporates educational and physical activities, segmented by grade levels K through 6, that provide lessons in math, English, science, and nutrition. We are also in the process of rolling out additional subject areas and curriculum for grades 7-12.
The program is free and Achilles supplies classroom teachers and adaptive physical education teachers with all the training materials as well as ancillary materials, such as Achilles t-shirts, training log books, lap charts, membership cards, and winner medals.
Achilles Kids: Run to Learn is currently in over 150 schools in the U.S. with approximately 3,500 kids participating.
To request more information about the program or find out about setting up a program in a school in your area click here to email us, or call (212-354-0300 x305).
“When I first started teaching adaptive physical education I worked in hallways, cafeterias and basically any space that the school would allow. When I received this position at PS 222 I was thrilled to know that I was going to get a gym for my program. The first thing I wanted to start was a running program. I trained my children to do laps. They liked it, but it was hard to keep them motivated. I heard about Achilles Kids….I was thrilled to know that there was a program that I could use to motivate the children to run. Well, to say the least I haven''t been able to stop them. “There is something about being able to track their success that they love. I use poker chips to track their laps, and sticker charts to track their miles, and of course the map to plot their whereabouts. They come in every class crazed about running their laps. When I say "last lap" there is a big sigh among them. They love the program as much as I do. At the end of the year when they are given a t-shirt, or a pair of sneakers to commemorate their success and accomplishments, it is the look on their face that tells me how much they really love this program, and what a wonderful tool it is for educators.”
Kim Cori Teacher,
PS 222 Brooklyn