KSC Swimmers help Symonds School students get set for Wednesday's Turkey Trot
KEENE, N.H. 11/17/08 - When the gun goes off at 2p.m. to start the 13th Annual Turkey Trot on Wednesday, the students from the Symonds School will be ready.
Since early October, the students with help from members of the Keene State swim and dive teams, have been getting ready for the annual fun run that takes place around the walking trails at the Symonds School in Keene.
Once every week, the Owl athletes, affectionately known as "Big Feet" have been teaming up with their "Little Feet", students in the third, fourth , and fifth grade, in an after school running and walking club organized by Beth Corwin, a physical education specialist at the school.
"When I came here, there weren't any after school opportunities for the kids," said Corwin, who is in her 13th year at the Symonds School. "There was a need for the students to have an alternative sport to those already offered in the community. We wanted to do something different."
According to Corwin, the program is all about having fun, participating and loving physical activity.
Piling into the gym after their class day is done, the students have a meet-and greet with their big feet, who are assigned to groups based on speed. After limbering up with a few stretches and calisthenics, everyone heads outside for a running game.
Taking a time out for instruction, Little Feet and Big Feet get into their groups and away they go. After scampering around Wheelock Park for 20 minutes, the ringing of a cowbell summons all runners back to the school.
Both members of a masters swim program at KSC, Corwin and Owl swim coach Jack Fabian, began brain-storming of a way for the Owl athletes to work with the students from the Symonds School. They came up with the running/walking club.
"When I presented the program to the swimmers and divers, I thought only a few would be interested," said Fabian. "To my surprise, 15 athletes immediately volunteered. "It's a great experience for the athletes to promote wellness and serve as mentors to the students."
Watching the big feet and little feet running around on a chilly October day, you'd be hard pressed to figure out who's having a better time, the Owl athletes or their little chargers.
"I was involved in a similar program when I was young, so I wanted to give back to these kids," said Domingo Rose, a junior from Nashua. "I try to pass on things about sports to them."
Rose Harrington a senior from Orleans, Mass., says you can take a fish out of the water. "Swimmers can be runners too," she said. "It's good cross training and everyone can do it."
"I got involved with the program to learn about dealing with children, "said Marc Perreault, a junior education major from West Greenwich, R.I. "They're very curious and cute and want to know how you became so fast.
Perreault's running group goes by the name "I love pickle pie."
As far as the kids are concerned, the programs all about having fun and getting tuned up for the Turkey trot.
"I like this activity because I enjoy running," said fourth grader John Allard, who said the best part of racing is the finish.
Keelan Piispanen, another fourth grader, who comes from a family of runners, said her big foot makes running fun. "I want to do well in the Turkey trot and beat my record from last year," he said.
"I already run a lot, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to do more," said 10-year old Sam Cooper. "I really like my big foot. He keeps up with us and doesn't leave us behind."
Corwin said the several aspiring runners have sprouted from the program. "Six kids from the Symonds have been running all the way through high school and all of them credit this little after school program with developing their initial excitement about the sport, "she said.
Over 500 people, including students and their families and the entire Symonds School community with take part in the Turkey Trot festivities. Some will run, others will walk, and a few might skip along the course.
Participants will be asked to bring along a can for the Keene Community Kitchen and a raffle for turkeys will take place after the trot is over.
"What we really want is for everyone to get the enjoyment of physical activity, so they're active every day for their entire lives," said Corwin. "That's what it's all about."