Clymer, New York
Morning Jogging Program
Five years ago, Clymer Central School PE teacher Irv King introduced a simple solution to a predicament faced by many schools – how to occupy students before the first morning bell. At Clymer, students arriving to school previously had to wait on the bus or remain seated in hallways before the start of the day’s classes. Recognizing an opportunity to make better use of this idle time, Mr. King started Clymer’s Morning Jogging program. This zero-cost program gives students the chance to be active for up to 20 minutes before classes start. At 7:30am, kids are given access to the gym and are allowed to walk, jog, or run around a lined “track” at the perimeter of the floor until the morning bell sounds. The concept is straightforward and the structure minimal. There are no planned games or activities. Students simply join the jogging circle as their parents and buses drop them off. Some sprint, some jog, some stroll, but all are moving.
In addition to the benefits of engaging in daily physical activity, school faculty and parents have noticed other benefits of the Morning Jogging program. Teachers report that their students arrive to class alert and ready to learn. Parents appreciate that the program incentivizes kids to wake up and get to school promptly in the morning. The program also offers children a valuable opportunity to socialize, not only with their friends and classmates, but with kids from other classes and grade levels. As Mr. King explains, the program has operated successfully for five years at no cost to the school or district because it makes use of existing resources. Staff volunteers, who have already begun their normal workday, take turns supervising. Mr. King’s innovative work at Clymer Central has attracted the interest of local press and also the recognition of New York’s Academy of Medicine; the Morning Jogging program was featured as a poster presentation at the organization’s Obesity Symposium in 2011.
Five years ago, at the program’s inception, 50% of Clymer’s students took part in Morning Jogging. This year the program impressively reaches 85% of Clymer’s K-6 student body, with 204 of 241 students participating. Mr. King believes the benefits of the program will carry well beyond the morning school bell. “At some point in time in their life,” he says, “they’re going to look back and remember how starting a morning walking felt so good.”
Clymer photos courtesy of ©Thomas Hoebbel Video~Photo