Running isn’t typically viewed as a team activity, but the Crim Fitness Foundation takes a group focus when introducing children to one of the world’s oldest forms of exercise.
Area youth running groups compete at the annual Crim Kids Invitational, which will be held on Friday, August 16, at Chevy Commons in Flint. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is geared towards young runners who compete in timed 1/4 Mile, 1/2 Mile or 1-Mile races.
Conditioning from the program that began toward the end of June and ends at the Aug. 16 event is connected to developing of healthier bodies, says Jennifer Baker, program manager of physical activity and sports for the Crim.
“They practice with their volunteer coaches and they are training for either a quarter-mile, half-mile or a one-mile, timed event,” Baker says.
Youth who sign up for the program meet twice weekly with running coaches at various locations. The 2019 participants formed clubs that met throughout Genesee County, including Flint. Attendance in the groups varies, but Davison’s location drew more than 100 runners this year, while places like Grand Blanc and Flushing had good numbers of youth, too, Baker says.
Coaches who help train youth are Crim supporters who promote running to improve and maintain health. The coaches use an instruction manual during sessions with children, in an effort to prepare them for the Kids Invitational.
“They’re fun relays and different types of games with the kids,” Baker adds. “They don’t even realize they’re getting exercise or practicing.”
While running is regarded as good fitness training for both youth and adults it also is often associated with racing against opponents. Crim’s program focuses more on fitness and camaraderie than individual winners, says Baker.
“No, it’s really not competitive,” she says. “It’s a fun and safe event for kids to participate in during the summer and get physical activity.”
All youth participating in the invitational receive a club t-shirt and participation ribbon. The Chevy Commons location is a new attraction for the Kids Invitational. The time of the event is scheduled to encourage attendance by the community
“It’s an evening race, so people will be able to come out after work at the end of the day, whether parents or grandparents,” Baker says.