New Balance Foundation Billion Mile Race Gets Kids Moving in All 50 States

Students at Mountain View Elementary in Claremont, CA participate in their school’s running program.

New Balance Foundation Billion Mile Race Gets Kids Moving in All 50 States

September 16, 2015

New Balance Foundation-sponsored challenge combats childhood obesity with in-school physical activity; hits 1,300 of 25,000 school goal on launch day

(September 16, 2015) BOSTON, MA – Opening today to all schools across the country, the New Balance Foundation Billion Mile Race challenges 5-12 year olds to collectively reach one billion miles by participating in school-based walking and running clubs. More than 1,300 schools have already signed on to the multi-year effort, which aims to engage 25,000 schools total. Students have logged more than 5.1 million miles, the equivalent of 22 trips to the moon.

Only one in three children is physically active each day. To encourage physical activity, Billion Mile Race was created by ChildObesity180 at Tufts University, and funded by the New Balance Foundation as part of their global NB SparkStart initiative. Billion Mile Race was inspired by the 100 Mile Club, which challenges students to walk or run 100 miles at school over the course of a single academic year. 

School-based walking and running programs are a winning approach to building more physical activity into kids’ daily lives and forming the essential healthy habits that will help to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The Billion Mile Race is the first of its kind, motivating all of America’s elementary school students to join a national movement where physical activity is integral rather than an “extra.” Every school in the country can sign up for the Race at no charge, accessing support materials and tracking their progress through the online portal. 

Active kids simply do better—better in the classroom, better attendance, better health and fitness. Karen Finnegan, a fifth-grade teacher whose school in West Roxbury, MA, is participating in the Billion Mile Race, noted, “The children have more energy, and they’re more focused on their school work.”  Several scientific studies have shown that physical activity is associated with health benefits such as obesity prevention, as well as academic achievement, better school attendance and fewer disciplinary problems. Thus the Institute of Medicine urges that all children attain 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, 30 minutes of which should be during school hours.(1)  

“The New Balance Foundation is proud to join with ChildObesity180 and the 100 Mile Club in this new effort to get kids moving in schools across America,” said Anne Davis, managing trustee, New Balance Foundation. “Our NB SparkStart initiative is dedicated to improving children’s health, well-being and self-esteem through movement, and supporting measurable programs like the Billion Mile Race will inspire our nation’s students to discover their movement spark.”

“We need kids to understand how to make good choices for themselves, and we need environments that point to healthy choices as the default,” said Christina Economos, PhD, vice chair and director of ChildObesity180. “The New Balance Foundation Billion Mile Race builds quality physical activity into the school day in a way that’s fun for kids and lays the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits.”

“It can be hard to say, ‘Let’s do this one more thing,’ but I’m so glad that we did,” said Nan Mead, school nurse at the participating Swift River School in New Salem, MA. “There are so many benefits that were unforeseen. As a school nurse, developing this lifelong love of health and exercise has become central to my job. As a community, it’s brought everyone closer.”

“The philosophy at the heart of the 100 Mile Club is that every single individual can strive for success by accepting the challenge to walk or run 100 miles during a single school year,” said Kara Lubin, 100 Mile Club Founder and CEO. “The way that the Billion Mile Race is opening this challenge to every student across America is thrilling, and we are tremendously honored and excited to be the featured program.”

If your school is ready to join the movement, sign up at the Billion Mile Race website (www.billionmilerace.org). The website, featuring the 100 Mile Club, provides all you need to start a walking and running program including setting goals, logging miles, tracking progress, and participating in this national movement. 

Established in 1981, the New Balance Foundation has served a deeply held mission: to support charitable organizations whose humanitarian efforts work for the betterment of our children and communities. The heart of the Foundation's focus is the prevention of childhood obesity.

About ChildObesity180:  Aiming for a “180” on Childhood Obesity
Based at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, our premise is unique:  Top national leaders from the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors committed to developing, measuring, and implementing evidence-based solutions to reverse the alarming epidemic of childhood obesity in America. For more information, visit www.ChildObesity180.org.

Reference:
Institute of Medicine. Education the student body: taking physical activity and physical education to school. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.

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