By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — A 10-year veteran educator from the Dr. John C. Page Elementary School is taking to the streets this year to underscore to his students the importance of exercise and nutrition.
Sixth-grade teacher John Peterson has kicked off the New Year with a new resolution. He’s in training now for what he hopes will eventually lead to a successful running of the Boston Marathon in April. Peterson’s goal is to raise $5,000 in sponsorship money for the charity “Team GoKids,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring young people to strive for health and wellness.
Since announcing his plans in December, Peterson has met more than half his goal by raising $2,561 in sponsorship donations.
As a teacher, Peterson says he understands the importance of finding ways to limit the number of hours kids spend in front of computer and video screens and instead help them seek fun and positive ways to increase physical activity and nutritional awareness.
With childhood obesity more than tripling in the past 30 years and more than one-third of children and adolescents defined as clinically overweight or obese in 2008, Peterson says his ultimate goal in running what will be his fourth marathon is to educate the kids and parents in this community about why staying active is a key component to a person’s overall well-being.
As he did in the marathons he ran in Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Peterson hopes to run the 26.2-mile stretch from Hopkinton to Boston in less than 4 hours. To meet that goal the busy teacher and after-school tutor rises as early as 5 a.m. most days to run with his sister, a teacher at the Nock Middle School in Newburyport. The two began running 5K races three years ago and tackled their first marathon together with a third sibling in Chicago in October 2011.
For Peterson, training consists of three shorter runs in the middle of the week and a longer run on the weekend. He supplements the running with workouts at Crossfit in Newburyport. Peterson also coaches basketball and runs after-school flag football and floor hockey programs in West Newbury.
Peterson chose the “GoKids” charity because its “life-changing programs and ground-breaking research” make it a “local leader in combating the obesity epidemic.” According to the charity’s website, one of its goals is to “enlist youth and professionals as health ambassadors.” Chancellor Keith Motley of UMass Boston spearheaded the initiative in 2006 in collaboration with Children’s Hospital in Boston. The program also partners with the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Boston College.
The 5,300-square-foot GoKids Boston fitness center “exemplifies a health promotion-focused youth development program by translating current science into innovative programs and by collaborating with primary care providers, schools, and other community resources,” the website states.
To sponsor Peterson in his race or to track the progress he has made toward his running and fundraising goals, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/teamgokids/fundraiser/johnpeterson1.