4-H virtual running club replaces Girls Go Run in response to COVID-19

Youths participating in the Lake County 4-H Kids Virtual Running Club received stickers.

A lack of physical activity and childhood obesity rates are a growing concern in Lake County. In the spring of 2019, Oregon State University Extension Service in the county launched Girls Go Run, an exercise program for elementary-age youth that proved to be so popular that plans called for it to be brought back in 2020. Girls Go Run relied on running in groups and culminated in a celebratory 5-kilometer run.

Girls Go Run couldn’t happen this spring after OSU Extension canceled in-person programming to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Lake County Extension 4-H’s Melissa Maxwell didn’t want to let an opportunity pass, however. As a result, the Lake County 4-H Kids Virtual Running Club was born.

“Lake County 4-H believes in leading an active and healthy lifestyle,” Maxwell said. “Even though it’s a different kind of running program, my aim was to make it accessible to all Lake County youth in grades K-8 and promote kids and families to remain active while staying home.”

Here’s how the Lake County 4-H Kids Virtual Running Club works:

  • The children run, jog or walk at any location – on grass, on a sidewalk, on a trail, on a treadmill or on a track.
  • They run/jog/walk their age-appropriate race distance, at their own pace, and their parent or guardian records their time.
  • Their results can be uploaded after each week to an online results page, where they can also comment on their experience.
  • Families can also choose their own start and finish line, or if available, use an existing one provided by the running club.

Like Girls Go Run, the club’s goal is to encourage character development and healthy lifestyles through running, jogging or walking. It began May 10 and continued through mid-June. Upon registering, participants received a welcome packet in the mail that included a running record sheet, shoelaces with the 4-H logo and stickers.

Twenty children participated. They received a T-shirt when they completed the program.

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