by Carol Goodrow
My favorite message to write on a birthday card is, "I hope you have a cake with pink frosting!" Pink's the color of sunsets and roses. It's the color of the natural blush that running puts on your face. Its flavor is often a mystery until the first taste.
In this new century, the age of non-biased gender opportunities, pink's often worn by male and female athletes alike, in footwear and singlets.
Encourage GIRLS and BOYS alike to participate in physical activity and let them participate together. Ice that cake with pink and take away some of the gender bias as a first step.
UT HOW MANY BIRTHDAYS (or cakes with pink frosting) should you have before you start running?
My answer is ONE, just one.
If a child can walk, that same child can run, but this piece isn't really just for one year olds, it's for kids every year on their birthdays, from one on up. I propose that on your child's first birthday, you have the first very special running party of many to come and that you plan your party to glorify love, well-being, exercise, health, fitness and literacy.
Start young. Very young children don't fret about their natural running ability. They aren't discouraged by someone being faster; not yet. They just run without worrying about how they compare to others.
HE BIRTHDAY INVITATION says it all.
It should read something like this: You are invited to a birthday fun run. Wear running shoes, bring Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa; brothers and sisters are welcome too! Have them all wear running shoes!
We'll be running a stuffed animal relay and wearing Number 1s in honor of Tammy and Timmy's 1st birthdays. We'll be having ice cream and cake, but all of the other food will be healthy food. Please bring ______________ (healthy food). Bring your camera! Everyone will receive a birthday ribbon at our backyard finish line. Bring your best listening ears. Grandma will be reading a story after the run, for everyone's enjoyment, "The Gingerbread Man".
We'll provide the art supplies. The kids will draw pictures and write about our relay.
Include all ages in this event. Don't assume some won't participate. Just let them know what you're planning and have confidence that they will support your ideas.
HE RELAY RACE has to be fun and creative.
Use stuffed animals as relay batons. Plan your course. Have it in the backyard or at a park. Instead of nametags at a birthday table, set signs up on the course (with directions) so everyone knows where they are to run and if they are running more than once. Use chairs or those small plastic gym class cones. Buy them or borrow them from a local school. Put a dowel in the cones and tape a sign to the top of the dowel with directions for each leg. Add a balloon for a festive look. Take time to go over everyone's directons before the fun run. If the child is very young, have someone older run with them so they know what to do and where to go.
Ex: Billy's leg: When you get the bunny (baton), run to Jenny by the big oak tree. Give her the bunny.
Pass that stuffed animal along as you run. Let the birthday kids run last. They will be the anchors. Have them bring their 'baton bunnies' across the finish line. Remind everyone that they are all winners today for they are celebrating with health and fitness.
Keep this day non-competitive, even if the birthday kids are now old enough to like competition. Emphasize fun, fun, fun, and participation by all. Save "competition" for another time and place.
EFORE THE RUN (AND AFTER) keep moving.
Turn up the CD player, put on the rock music, then let all the kids run around and dance. Set up a safe exercise area for your young birthday boy and girl. They need space to move. It's better for them than spending the whole time on Mommy's lap, and when they get tired, they'll let you know. Keep in mind that kids need more time to exercise than adults.
Kids should basically exercise for an hour a day, and adults at least a half hour.
EXT YEAR, do it again!
Age 2: Same plan, change the distances, change the running numbers to Number 2s. Also , you may wish to change the story (let Grandpa read this time), and use a ball instead of a stuffed animal for a baton. Then 3s, 4s, 5s and you get the picture.
Having an annual event to look forward to, makes more of an impression to a child. The child will remember these birthday events for a long time.
HEREAFTER keep this day as an active healthy celebration.
I chose the 'birthday' as the most important time to have a party which is a model of health and fitness for the whole family. The birthday party is an event which kids remember throughout their life. It exemplifies our best celebrations and happiest moments. It's a symbol of our society and things that we hold in esteem. It seems only fitting that this day should be full of the kind of fun that is good for you and for your well being, so that kids will learn to associate healthy activity with fun and celebration.
It can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a society which celebrates every occasion with sedentary parties and too much high fat food.
NFLUENCES are everywhere.
Having Mom and Dad participate is important. The very youngest children are more influenced by their parents than friends. Peer pressure doesn't come into play for the toddlers, but that will happen soon enough. Encourage your friends, to encourage their children to participate in the same lifetime fitness activities. so that your child will grow up with a set of peers who understand the importance of exercise.
Eventually teachers become an influence for children. Encourage the teachers of your kids to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
ORE THAN RUNNING
The fun run theme is one that you can carry with you throughout your lifetime. Runners can run of course, others can run/walk, and everyone can participate in one way or another. Distances and venues can change, but the idea of that cozy birthday fun run can be something that can be repeated throughout a lifetime.
Perhaps some years you'll be lucky and you can attend an event the day of your birthday, other years a hike in the woods might be the right thing to do, or a ride on a bike trail, but celebrating an important event with exercise with the people you love is one of the nicest ways to say, "Happy Birthday!"There are many creative and varied ways to exercise in our society. Try different activities.
Printable Invitation Just like the old-fashioned cards. Print, cut, fold and fill in your own information.
Running Number 1 for your 1 Year Old!
Running Number 3
Email for more printable birthday bib numbers.
Email for free RW/KR birthday fun run ribbons, coming soon!