Cancer Research UK, in partnership with Run Mummy Run, is launching a new after-school activity called Race for Life Schools Run Club. Run club leaders will lead a weekly walking/jogging/running session for pupils and parents to take part in together, and the money raised from holding these sessions will help Cancer Research UK beat cancer sooner.
One of our Run Mummy Run members Helen, shares her experience of setting up and running a Race for Life Schools Run Club in her school.
Are you thinking of setting up a Run Club and/or running a Race for Life event in your school? My advice would be Go for It!
My friend Victoria and I had been tentatively discussing setting up a running and well-being club for the children at our Primary School for some months. When we saw the appeal from Run Mummy Run to trial a Race for Life run club and event in schools we jumped at the chance and quickly offered our school the opportunity .
It is fair to say they were reluctant at first and needed a little persuasion. Thankfully I already had an established relationship with the senior management team (I had been Chair of the PTA for three years), so I knew how to get the right people to say yes.
The school registered as a host school and I registered as a run club leader and we started working together on our ideas for how the club might work.
Victoria has a background in teaching yoga and PiYo classes and is a regular runner, add in her skills in therapeutic massage, well-being sessions and countless other things, and I knew I was in safe hands with the actual delivery.
I added my organisational skills and some ideas about tracking progress and keeping in close contact with our run club children to the mix. Together we then formulated a plan and met with the staff to discuss it.
We also crucially recruited two more adult helpers – another Run Mummy Run member who was keen to get involved and a Teaching Assistant in school also happy to volunteer for an extra 1-2 hours once a week to help us run the club.
We were excited.
We may have got slightly carried away.
We were a little ambitious with our plans and ideas.
One week later we ran a ‘launch assembly’ for the whole school.
Another week later we had over 50 children requesting a place in Run Club – and we had agreed with the school we would offer 30 places.
We agreed with the school that we would offer 35 places (allocated on a first-come first-serve basis), as we expected a few to be absent and/or drop out as the weeks progressed.
As it happened, apart from a couple who changed their minds (and we filled their places with children from the waiting list), every week we had over 30 children and all 35 completed the 10 sessions.
So, what did we do and how did it work?
As previously mentioned we may have been a little ambitious and overexcited with our plans. We didn’t wait for the packs and guidelines to arrive as Run Mummy Run and Race for Life suggest which with hindsight would have been a good idea. We made our club work thought and shaped and changed things as we went along..
- We invited children in years 2-6 to take part in a ‘running and well-being club’ once a week from 3.15 – 4.30pm
- We asked any year 5 or 6 participants if they would like to become ‘young leaders’ in the club, contributing their ideas.
- We introduced the club with a launch assembly outlining the club and Race for Life event and sent flyers home.
- With 50% wanting to be young leaders we introduced a ‘buddy’ system where every young leader ‘looked after’ a younger member of the group.
- Each club member had a record card and we spent 5 mins at the end of each session completing these – asking the children to think about how they felt after the session.
- Young leaders were also asked to contribute to their buddy’s record card, adding words of encouragement and/or praise.
- Sessions started on the small school field and we moved to a larger space, where we planned to hold our event, about half way through.
- From the beginning we created a chant/mantra for the children – strong bodies, kind hearts, open minds, happy tummies – we started and ended each session with this chant (with actions).
- The first sessions followed a similar format consisting of a 5-10 minute warm up, 3 or 4 stations of activities (yoga moves, simple exercises, pom/poms and cheering) where they spent 5-7 minutes before moving onto the next station. Then a running activity. A cool down session was then followed by 5 minutes completing record cards.
- As we progressed through the weeks we increased the amount of running and allowed the children to guide the sessions – some organised and led the warm up or suggested ideas, some arranged a relay session.
- We also had themed sessions – Harry Potter Yoga, event planning, back signs, and positive affirmations – these were successful and often we spent more time than planned as the children were so absorbed in the challenge and the thinking around themselves, their bodies and the community they now felt a part of.
- Every couple of sessions we sent home a note to parents explaining what we had done, praising the children for taking part and reminding parents about the online fundraising and recommended donations.
The Race for Life Event
We scheduled the final Race for Life event to coincide with sports day and promoted it to the whole school. Everyone was encouraged to take part and enjoy the Race for Life – children, parents, grandparents, teachers, toddlers and babies in prams!
We created a manageable loop around the sports field, with signs (This way, keep going, you are doing great etc), balloons and a finish funnel so participants could choose to finish or complete another loop.
The run club children lined up at the start with everyone else behind them. We got everyone joining in with our chant before a quick warm up routine. The event ran for a duration of 10 minutes rather than for a specific distance and everyone was encouraged to run what they could in this time. Everyone that took part received a medal….just…. it did get quite stressful towards the end as we thought we might run out!
Once runners crossed the finish line we had set up a photo booth with frames and positive words in speech bubbles for parents to capture the moment on their own cameras. A couple of camping water containers and some cups provided a water station (it was very hot so much needed).
Each child from run club received a certificate congratulating them on their completion of the club and event and also their record card for them to complete their final ‘How do I feel?’ after the Race for Life.
One thing I wish we had planned in was a final session after the event, as I would have loved to hear how they felt and shared their experience of the race for Life event. We’ll definitely add it in next time.
So far we have raised £480 in sponsorship and there is more to come. We added in an additional certificate for the child who raised the most (£80). This was a child who had missed out on a place in run club but took part in the event anyway, and is hoping to take part in run club next year!
Feedback from parents, children and staff has been very positive. Many of the children progressed beyond their own expectations.
You really can put in as much or as little as you like to do this, but if you are just a little bit tempted then go for it!
The packs from the Race for Life team provide everything you need and you don’t need to be quite as ambitious as us. It’s a great thing to be a part of it and we will definitely be doing it again….although we do have our sights set on maybe running this in a High School next time
Thank you Run Mummy Run, Race for Life and Mattishall Primary for letting us have a go!