Second-grader Sarah Morris was a little girl with a big idea for her school.
After reading an issue of National Geographic Kids, Sarah approached her teacher, Kaitlin Smith, and asked if Mount Vernon Exploratory School in North Hall could help the magazine break Guinness World Records’ titles for the most people to run 100 meters in 24 hours and the longest chain of shoes.
The magazine’s initiative is part of Run for the Planet, whose mission is to motivate kids and their families to do something good for their health and the environment. After the record count, the shoes will be recycled into athletic surfaces.
“I get the magazines all the time, so I am always reading them,” Sarah said. “I told Mrs. Smith about the world records so we could help break them.”
The school organized a project-based learning group, called an enrichment cluster, and asked interested second- and third-grade students to join. The cluster then set out to organize every aspect of the run and shoe collection.
“The kids came up with everything we needed to do to set the records,” including decorating shoeboxes, creating posters to market their shoe collection, reserving the track at North Hall High School to run on and even recruiting a three-time strength and endurance world record holder Greg Cochran to teach them warm-up techniques and help build their stamina before the run, Smith said.
The students traveled from Mount Vernon to the track at noon Friday to run the 100 meters; they had already been in the process of collecting shoes.
“This whole process was a service project, and it helped them in learning math, and they had to create posters to persuade people to give their shoes, so it helped their writing skills,” Smith said of the students.
While there is currently no record for the 100-meter run, to set a new record there must be at least 5,000 participants to run between noon Friday and noon today. More than 25,000 shoes will need to be collected before Nov. 9 to break the current chain record.
Although Mount Vernon won’t know whether the students helped break the current records until a later date, Smith said they achieved what they set out to do.
“From the start, they knew what their goal was in getting everything together to get to this point and help break the records,” Smith said. “Today shows they were able to reach that goal.”