by Emily Prestley

For the first time, this year Key Club members had the opportunity to volunteer at Kutz Elementary during the eight weeks of its iRun4Life program. The success of iRun4Life, a nonprofit organization promoting fitness and healthy habits that reaches over twenty elementary schools in Pennsylvania and now New Jersey, is overwhelming the minute you enter the  gym where over 200 students, dozens of teacher, parent, and student volunteers work to ensure each day runs smoothly. Volunteers from West had the opportunity to volunteer for all eight weeks as assistant coaches, running each week with their assigned team of 10-12 students offering encouragement as they worked towards their goal, an iRun4Life-sponsored Kids Only 3K race, or for individual weeks helping to set up warm-up equipment, manage runner traffic around the course, and cheer for the runners as they ran. Volunteers also played an important role in matching every student with his or her parent and minimizing chaos as the day winded down, a difficult task with the sheer number of kids all running around!

Seeing the progression of the program through all eight weeks, I can say that the best part was seeing the enthusiasm for fitness and healthy lifestyles that iRun4Life inspired in the kids. It’s not always easy to motivate hundreds of elementary school kids to want to run laps after school, but iRun4Life managed to do so in a way that was fun, supportive, and educational. Whether the kids are warming up to “Gangnam Style” or watching with wonder as Dr. Green passed around his marathon medal, iRun4Life keeps them focused on their personal goals. It’s an incredibly complex operation to pull off every week - a system of mile logs, incentives, increasing distances, and weekly nutritional goals - but most simply, it is lots of fun for all involved.

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