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A kids walking and running club has been known to help combat childhood obesity by keeping kids active, and is designed for kids to interact with peers socially. Kids walking and running clubs have been developed for after school programs, weekend events and community engagement – the list of these clubs can go on and on, and you might even be able to think of a few in your area you’ve developed or attended.

Now is the perfect time to design a kids walking and running club, with a twist. As community centers and agencies provide more school-age services with the rise of virtual classrooms, designing a program to benefit the whole child and the group experience is apparent. Developing successful kids walking and running clubs will provide incentive and motivation for kids individually and as a group to increase kid’s movement and decrease problem behaviors.

The new twist of a walking and running club is designed to generate excitement by using positive reinforcement for individual and group achievement. This includes using behavior analysis methods and principles to develop a structured environment for everyone to be successful. Designing and creating a program using behavior analysis methods and principles may include goal setting, public posting, individual and group points to access items or group activities and feedback. It is important when designing kids walking and running clubs to motivate by using positive reinforcement. There is a high probability the kids will continue to walk or run to have access to their individual and group reinforcer.

A perfect setting where walking and running clubs will impact an agency with multiple students participating is in a virtual learning group setting. An agency might be looking to increase kid’s movement while decrease problem behavior in a group setting. When developing a program and wanting to see the impact, it is important to collect data to monitor and track your target behaviors. It is important that you clearly define the target behaviors you observe and provide examples and non-examples of what it looks like for everyone to observe.

You would create a data sheet for the adult’s supervision of the kids, therefore understanding the behavior they are observing and how they will collect data and the duration. You want to collect baseline data for three days to measure target behaviors before the walking and running club. You will also want to continue to collect the data after the walking and running club to be able to create a graph as a visual to confirm kids who are participating in the walking and running club have decreased the target behaviors while increasing appropriate behaviors.

Developing a walking and running club with a twist has multiple benefits for kids, including increasing movement while decreasing problem behaviors in a group setting. A successful walking and running club will have individual, and group reinforcers for incentive and motivation to increase the probability that kids will continue to walk or run. Collecting and tracking target behaviors will be crucial for making data-driven decisions and providing a visual of the program to show when kids participating in a structured and reinforcing walking and running club demonstrate a decrease in problem behavior, while increasing appropriate behaviors in a group setting.

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Holly Metzger-Brown

Holly Metzger-Brown, M.Ed. is the youth fitness director at the York Jewish Community Center.

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