Students run for health

A new running program at Tiffany Elementary School is whipping students into shape.

The Tiffany Tiger Trek program is a running program that keeps track of students’ running progress through a device called Student Lap Tracker.

A student receives a lap tracker identification card with a barcode that is scanned every time the student completes a lap.

After reaching a certain number of miles, students receive prizes like a certificate, a trophy and movie tickets.

All students from kindergarten through sixth grade participate in the morning running program.

Principal Joel Tapia said the newly designed program was created from the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s efforts to give its students a healthier lifestyle.

“The district had this vision that we would all be working toward students being healthy, fit and just eating better,” Tapia said.

To fulfill the district’s vision, Tapia said the school had to change its lunch menu to offer healthier lunch options while creating a more active environment for its students.

Tiffany Elementary School ditched the junk food and now serves whole wheat bread, fruits and vegetables. To stay active the school implemented the running program.

Tapia said the district wasn’t the only voice asking the student’s to live a healthier life.

“Parents wanted to see our students being healthy, and they themselves noticed that students were out of shape, struggling with normal activities; that there was less opportunity for them in the school day to be physically fit and active,” Tapia said.

Joanne Carson, parent lead for the Tiffany Tiger Trek Program, said the running program has 100 percent participation from the school’s 658 students.

Carson said 0.3 percent of the student body ran less than one mile this school year.

Collectively as a school, the students ran approximately 9,000 miles, Tapia said.

Tapia said while other schools in the district have their own running program, Tiffany is the only school to use data to track students’ progress.

Tapia said if data can be tracked for academics then it should be used for physical fitness.

The school’s principal said he has seen the running exercise change the way students behave.

“Students who used to be in my office for behavior problems, now those students are very successful in the trek program and are not in my office anymore,” Tapia said.

“I can’t say it’s the cure for behavioral issues, but I definitely see a correlation with these kids who are participating.”

Tapia said he would like to improve the trek program by adding stretching and calisthenics.

He also said he would like to find a way to get teachers and school staff more involved.

Tapia said he hopes the Tiffany Tiger Trek running program will serve as a healthy model for other schools in the district.

“Ultimately we are not jut looking out for our own school kids, this is for the whole city, for the whole district,” he said.

“If we can be of help to anybody we would love to.”