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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Keeping College Station youth healthy

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Photo courtesy of Erin Walker

10 kids perform jumping jacks during the the Spring 2022 season for the Healthy Kids Running Series. 

The Healthy Kids Running Series, or HKRS, seeks to provide local youth with a fun way to be more physically active.

The local program stems from a nationwide initiative “to engage communities and families by providing an inclusive youth running experience,” according to the organization’s website. The non-profit has operated since 2009 and currently operates in 41 states with over 70,000 participants. The weekly program hosts its last competition, medal ceremony and trophy ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 13, for the fall season.

College Station HKRS Director Erik Walker said he and his wife wanted to get their daughter involved in sports at an early age.

“My wife and I both ran track and field so we always had a soft spot for [the sport],” Walker said. “We wanted to encourage kids to be happy and healthy, but also give them a chance to compete and improve.”
HKRS has two five-week seasons, a spring season and a fall season. The local program achieved 40 runners in their first season and has over 20 participants on average weekly in the fall 2022 season. The number of participants was achieved by direct advertising, Walker said.

“We reached out to schools when we first started,” Walker said. “We also reached out to daycares, local running stores and running companies. We relied a lot on word of mouth.”

The program offers events for kids starting at 2-years-old. Kids aged 2-3 compete in the 50-yard dash. As kids move up in age divisions, the events progress in distance from 75 yards for 4 and 5-year-olds to a 1-mile race for 4th graders and 8th graders. When runners register for their respective races, they receive all necessary race day items in their running package, Walker said.
“When [kids] sign up, they get five running bibs and a running shirt,” Walker said. “The shirt is a different design each year. All the kids will get a medal after running the five races. We track results throughout the year to see if you’re improving. We reward points for every race. We hand out trophies to those with the highest points.”

The races take place on a grass course at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park. The open field provides parents and families the opportunity to cheer on the runners and Walker said this encouragement works hand-in-hand with their mission.

“We really believe [HKRS] is a great way for kids to get out and be physically active,” Walker said. “There is no pressure. There are no practices. If they work hard they can get better every week. All of a sudden kids get faster week by week and believe in themselves more and more.”
To learn more about HKRS in College Station, visit their website.

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