On Friday, October 28, 2016 Erie Neighborhood House hosted their annual Fall Festival. Chicago Run was lucky enough to be a part of the amazing event. Earlier this year, Chicago Run and Erie House partnered to bring the new Chicago Run Little Strides program into seven Early Childhood Education classrooms at Erie House. The Little Strides program works to promote the importance of physical activity at a young age as well as developing vital gross motor skills that are important during the early childhood years. During the Fall Festival, we were able to get the kids up and moving in the outdoor play area.

Fitness activities with young children can often times be intimidating. The Fall Festival was the first time I worked with Erie House pre-k students. Pre-k students often get distracted. Thus, if they are not excited about the activity in the first five minutes, the activity will likely not happen. Waiting for the preschoolers to arrive, my heart was beating fast, and the nerves were starting to set in. I was anxious the children were not going to enjoy the activity I had planned. Once the preschoolers arrived, they were so excited to see me and the other Chicago Run staff, easing my nerves. The children were so eager to run and exercise, that it provided me with a much needed reminder, that preschoolers LOVE to run and exercise. They normally are not exposed to structured fitness activities, like the activities in the Little Strides program, which is what makes my job so important. I realized that there is no need to be nervous, children will love any game or activity that I have planned because it makes fitness fun! Seeing all their smiling faces was a great reminder of why we started the Little Strides program. 

For the rest of the day, the children were able to show off their physical fitness abilities, while their parents and teachers cheered them on. It was a great way for parents to be introduced to the Little Strides program and give parents ideas for fun ways to exercise with their children at home. The morning was full of laughter and smiles from all of the preschoolers, which warmed the hearts of all the Chicago Run staff members. The ultimate goal of Little Strides is to make physical activity fun for children of all ages, so seeing all the smiling faces was a confirmation that indeed we had succeeded. We would like to thank Erie House for allowing us to be a part of this great Fall Festival experience. We look forward to our continued partnership!

Reflection by Stephanie Legan, Chicago Runners Program Manager