Mileage Club Harnesses the Magic of Movement

Annual program incentivizes, encourages elementary students to move more

3 photos of Mileage Club wearing blue tshirts and showing off their 'toe tokens'.When the Mary Greeley Mileage Club was started in the spring of 2006 with a Harkin Community Wellness Grant, hopes were high it would become something kids looked forward to as the weather warmed.

It has become just that … and more. While the grant only lasted two years, the program was so well-liked that Mary Greeley Medical Center opted to take it over. Today, the program is managed by Mary Greeley’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center—a perfect fit, considering the center’s focus on addressing issues related to childhood nutrition and obesity. 

Specifically, the Mileage Club is an eight-week walking/running program for elementary school children at more than a dozen schools in the region. Students earn “toe tokens” for completing laps. Many students choose to display these tokens prominently on necklaces or backpacks. Additionally, special prizes like frisbees, water bottles, and more, are provided when students hit specific milestones. Financial backing for the Mileage Club comes from private donations to the Mary Greeley Foundation.

In 2022, students ran or walked more than 50,000 miles during the 8-week program. The average student completed 11.05 miles with students at St. Cecilia Elementary leading the way with an average of 27.9 miles per student. 

On playgrounds across the area, the success of the program can be traced to a network of school administrators, teachers, volunteers, parents, and students enthusiastically working together to make it an enjoyable and valuable learning experience. The feedback about the program from individuals in these groups speaks volumes about how it is harnessing the magical good feelings that come from incorporating regular movement in their day.

Student: Sean Douglas, First Grade, Sawyer Elementary (Ames)

“It was fun because it was a competition. I ran every day because I wanted to complete my goal of 30 miles. I ended up going over it and got 31 miles. I got the most miles and got a certificate.”

Administrator: Chris deNeui, Principal, Central Elementary (Nevada)

“Mileage Club is the highlight of many students’ recesses! They love the friendly competition and constant movement.”

Teacher: Lise Rollins, PE Teacher, Fellows Elementary (Ames)

“The students at Fellows love Mileage Club! They hurry to get out to recess so that they can run. I see a lot of pride in my students when they show me their necklaces/tokens. We have a lot of encouragement from the staff & parents encouraging the kids to move.”

Volunteer/Parent: Amy Schmidt, Edwards Elementary (Ames)

“I have volunteered for eight years, starting when my oldest was in kindergarten. I was really impressed with the program. It turns fun recess playtime into an opportunity to teach kids fun ways to incorporate exercise. As a volunteer, I really enjoy watching the excitement on the kids’ faces. Some of them come charging out of those recess doors and are determined to get out there and meet their goals.”

To learn more about how you can support the Mileage Club, visit https://www.mgmc.org/healthy-living/mileage-club/.

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