Colaiste Iosagain in Portarlington is one of twenty schools nationwide chosen to implement the new iRunForFun fitness programme.
They began their six week training module a fortnight ago and are “loving it” according to PE teacher Miriam Holland.
Almost 600 students are taking part, with all of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Transition year filling out their personal traning diaries, supplied by organisers Athletics Ireland.
The programme is aimed at encouraging students into healthy lifestyles by walking, jogging and running.
It will end in a 3k race before Easter, but Coláiste Iosagáin plan to take it a big step further.
“Our annual 5k run in on May 6 and we might try keep the training going for that,” said Ms Holland, adding that Athletics Ireland will launch the 5k this year.
The chip timed street run is in its sixth year, with 650 students and 40 teachers taking part in 2015, cheered on through Portarlington by shoppers and supporters.
This May the school have made it compulsory for 1st to 3rd years.
“In fairness most try their very best on the day,” said Ms Holland.
Both she and fellow PE teacher Sinead Dempsey had applied online to take part in iRunForFun, unbeknownst to each other.
“It was fantastic to be chosen, to be one of only twenty schools in Ireland. We are always looking for new ideas to keep the kids interested,” she said.
The personal diaries are a big motivation.
“ The kids fill out in their diaries what they did at the start of each class, and they have lots of recipes and lifestyle advice too,” she said.
The programme offers three certificates to aim for, gold silver and bronze, to suit every fitness level.
“That is a great thing, it works for everyone across the board. We are always aiming for the kids who are not sporty, particularly girls. It can be very hard to motivate some, they are nearly afraid to do exercise, but they love it,” Ms Holland said.
Together with PE teacher Mick Fitzpatrick, the PE Department is organising the fifteen minute training sessions during classtime, including warm-ups and laps of the school grounds.
Students also have to carry out training in their own time .
“The beauty of this programme is that it suits all abilities. They will all get recognition for their efforts,” said Ms Holland.
iRunforfun is a schools based health programme, sponsored by the HSE, Healthy Ireland, Athletics Ireland, The Irish Sports Council and the Irish Schools Athletic Association.
Eight houses in Offaly will go up for sale in an online auction later this month.
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