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Osborn students get moving, earn prizes with morning walking club
Osborn walking club 1
Osborn second graders Gael Barajas (middle, white shirt) and Genesis Rodriguez (right) show off their necklaces, a prize earned for completing at least five miles for the school’s new Walking Club (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Many children at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy have been asking their parents if they can be dropped off at school earlier. When parents oblige, they have been noticing upbeat music coming from the campus. But worry not, the kids aren’t partying. Actually, they are getting in a morning workout with the school’s new Walking Club.

Beginning at 8 a.m. and lasting up to the first school bell at 8:30 a.m. every morning, students have been putting their track to good use, most walking, others jogging and some sprinting. There are joyous yet determined faces on their faces, and it’s exactly what assistant principal Claudia Navarro and the school staff love to see.

Osborn Walking club 2
Students from first to fifth grade get rack up their steps on Tuesday morning at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy as part of the new Walking Club (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

According to Navarro, the Walking Club is a part of the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which focusses on providing unique, positive environments and learning activities. The club is also the result of the campus having limited space for play because of ongoing construction and renovations.

“We have one of the playgrounds open, but still with all of the construction, we have very limited space. But looking at the kids, they all love it. There’s a healthy aspect to it to have the kids get active in the morning, studies have shown that it helps them focus more and it keeps them busy. They’re walking around full of energy or running, listening to the music, talking with their friends and having a good time,” Navarro explained. “It’s also a wonderful way to get the kids motivated and happy to come to school and to get here early.”

The determined looks on some of the students’ faces come from the fact that they can receive prizes for accomplishing so many miles notched around the track. Last month, the Kiwanis of Greater Turlock donated $500 to the school to purchase special necklaces and colorful tags to incentivize the students for every five miles completed. Miles are tracked by Melissa Hanson of StrideTrack, an online running tracking program.

Osborn Walking Club 3
Parent volunteer Melissa Hanson of Turlock and fitness company StrideTrack scans cards of each student to automatically add up the miles walked or ran during Osborn’s morning Walking Club (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Hanson is from Turlock and has a child who attends Osborn. When students show up to the track each morning, they are handed a flashcard with their name and a barcode. Every time they finish a lap, Hanson or another parent volunteer scans the card, which automatically adds up how many miles a student has walked.

“At StrideTrack, we deal with clubs from all across the United States and all over the world. Running clubs have been super common and popular for a very long time because they are easy to implement. I was happy to help bring this to Osborn and it’s so fun to see the ones who come out consistently,” Hanson said. “My favorite thing is that it’s something almost anyone can do and anyone can succeed.”

The first day of the Walking Club took place on May 1. Since then, 389 students have participated. Leading the way in most-miles completed is second grader Gael Barajas, who is already up to 14.37 miles and counting.

“I like to run,” the eight-year-old said. “I like to run because we get prizes.”

Among the staff and volunteers watching is principal Agustin Arreola. He expressed joy upon seeing the Walking Club quickly grow in popularity, averaging 150 to 200 students every morning.

“There are a lot of kids who may not like basketball or soccer or some of the other activities they can do out here in the field, but everybody can walk and run and it gets their day started on a positive note,” he said “It’s not just the little ones out here, but we have the older fifth graders who are out here spending time alongside the first graders, and that’s an amazing to see. It just builds that strong Osborn community.”