Giving Back By Going Forward

It’s Wednesday and my children are excited to go to school. Yes, they like school, but they are particularly interested in Wednesday’s recreational activity--Mile Masters. It’s a unique track and field activity designed to help kids give back to the community by going forward.

Kids Helping Kids

In my community, 90 percent of children are on some type of assisted lunch program. Each year, Mile Masters offers a way for other children to help those who are in need, and keep the program funded.

On Wednesdays, a group of kids come out to the circle track at school and start moving. Some walk and talk, some jog together, and some become really serious and get in as many laps as possible.

Mile Masters uses a basic fundraising technique: asking for a donation for each lap that a child runs. Adults don’t count, but they are more than welcome to walk along with their children. Several donors offered to help at their own level of assistance, such as pitching in $1 per lap or 50 cents per lap. In the end, the program received much local recognition and donor participation.

Once the donors in Mile Masters were in place, the kids were informed that they were helping other children in the community who needed their assistance. My children thoroughly enjoy the activity.

Since they are brothers, they are always competing with one another, so they enjoy seeing who can get the most laps in the time frame.

How It Works

Mile Masters invites children ages 4 and older to run at their own pace around the track. Once a lap is finished, the children receive a marker dot on their hand.

My children enjoy comparing dots with each other as well as other children, and everyone congratulates one another for a job well done. In order to ensure an understanding of how they help, the children are asked to count their dots and tell the recreation director how many they have (some require assistance, of course).

Once these are recorded, the marks are tallied, and the children are shown how much money they have raised. This gets them excited to try for more dots next time, getting them moving even faster! The money raised definitely helps the community and shows children they can do something for someone else in a unique way.

Start Your Own Program

If you are interested in implementing this program, but unsure if you will have the participation of donors, start with the parents first. Parents love to see their children involved in any activity.

And give the local media a heads up about what you are doing. They are always interested in activities for children, and this program is bound to seize the limelight because it involves kids helping others in their community.

The interest generated by the press can only help your facility gain recognition, which means more donors and customers. Although there are no “winners” or trophies in this activity, it will be deemed a successful program simply because of its message.

Aside from starting a program, the idea behind Mile Masters can be turned into an ongoing activity for children. Since children like to buy things, they can earn money by racing for tokens, whereby each time they run a lap around the track, they earn a token, which can be used to buy something in the recreation center.

You can offer some things like juice or a T-shirt, or you can give inexpensive items, such as jump ropes, dinosaurs, small cars or little dolls. The items don’t really matter because kids just love the idea of earning chips and getting something for themselves.

Mile Masters can turn into a long-term program for a facility. Start with a fundraiser to get kids moving and earning their own money. If you don’t have a track, set up an obstacle course, or use the idea on another activity, like swimming or an aerobics class.

Parents support activities that get their children the exercise they need, and allow them to have a great time doing it.

Kati Trammel is an advertising and public relations specialist in Lakeland, Fla.. She can be reached at