Feb. 12, 2020
Baker Kids of STEEL doubles participation
In its first year in the Kids of STEEL program, Baker Elementary was named Rookie Site of the Year for the largest new site to the program with about 100 participants. Year two is just getting underway and participation has doubled to more than 200 students.
“Kids of steel has highlighted and accentuated the way we work as a family. With over half of our students participating in the training and race day, it requires unbelievable organization and energy,” Dr. Patrick McClintock-Comeaux, Baker principal, said. “Holly Fisher, our school nurse, and Melissa DePuy, a Baker parent, lead a glorious horde of parent volunteers twice each week to create a program that our kids love and is incredibly good for them. They are learning a life skill: not only of running, but also of valuing hard work, training, and working toward a goal.”
The Kids of STEEL program is an award-winning, physical activity and nutrition program offered free of charge to any interested classroom, school or youth organization. During training, participants complete the equivalent of 26.2 miles (the distance of a full marathon) of physical activity at school, during a before or after school program, or at home with their families.
“After last year’s training and race day, the confidence our kids gained in themselves and their ability to complete hard tasks shot through the roof!,” Mrs. DePuy said. “They all want to be involved in the training and the actual race day because they’re finding happiness in physical activity with their friends.”
The overwhelming increase in participation has been described as both amazing and overwhelming.
“We are very lucky to have had so many parents step up and volunteer to help out. Currently, we have just about half of Baker involved with the program,” Mrs. Fisher said. “The fact that so many students and families want to be more physically active and take time to learn more about health and wellness makes me feel so fulfilled as a health professional in the school.”
This year’s program is starting a few weeks earlier than last year – giving students 13 weeks of training compared to last year’s 10.
“What I love so much about this program is that it is flexible. Kids can come when they are able to and we can modify everything to meet the needs of all students no matter their fitness level,” Mrs. Fisher said.
The culminating activity for the Kids of STEEL program is the one-mile Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, which begins on the North Shore and runs across the Clemente Bridge and finishes at the official finish line downtown.
“My favorite part of the program is when we do the first long run at the beginning of training in February and a final long run at the end of the training in April,” Mrs. DePuy said. “They don’t believe us in the beginning, but before race day, they have proved to themselves how strong they’ve become!”
The Pittsburgh Kids Marathon created many treasured memories for the Baker school community.
“It was such a joy and honor standing at the starting line with all of the kids and their parents,” Mrs. Fisher said. “It didn't feel like just another afterschool student activity anymore, it was a community adventure and success crossing that finish line.”
In 2020, a record 180 schools and organizations have committed to Kids of STEEL. Participating schools and organizations also have the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 physical education grant and a transportation grant that provides busing to the Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, ensuring all Kids of STEEL have the opportunity to make it to the start line.
More than 40,000 runners are expected to register for the 2020 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh weekend of events. With more than 6,600 participants in 2019, the Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon is one of the largest youth races in the country. For more information on Kids of STEEL, go to: www.p3r.org/programs/kids-of-steel.