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Kids Making Strides Towards Improved Health One Lap at a Time

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  At a time when many Americans are just starting a workout routine, Kevin Kofoot Ramos is close to reaching a running milestone.

"I think it's 21 or 22 miles," says Kevin.

That's how far he's run since starting the Kidstriders program at Stowe Elementary School in Des Moines.

Cindy Elsbernd, a member of the Des Moines School Board, started the program in 2005 in response to the increase in childhood obesity.

"I chose running because I had become a runner myself... and really realized the physical benefit, the emotional benefit and the mental benefit."

Students in 18 schools around the metro are now taking part in Kidstriders.  Each participant receives a card with a unique bar bode, which is scanned every time they complete a lap around the playground.

"It scans of you when you run the whole block," says Kevin.  "So you just keep going and going and going."

For every five miles completed, the kids get a plastic token, shaped like a foot.  If they complete 26.2 miles - the equivalent of a marathon - they get a T-shirt and the opportunity to run in The Grand Blue Mile, the kick-off to the Drake Relays.

Carlye Satterwhite, the Physical Education Curriculum Coordinator for Des Moines Schools, says it's important to get kids exercising at an early age and early in the day.

"It wakes you up, it gets you energized and I think that’s what benefits our students."

Kevin simply likes the way running makes him feel - physically and emotionally.

"I’m happy - like I am the top leader of Kidstriders."