Students complete 1st marathon at "Kids Rock Philly'

PHILADELPHIA - September 13, 2012

It was all part of ING Kids Rock, the largest school-based youth running initiative in the country!

They were expecting about 700 kids and more than one thousand showed up.

At a time when childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, Kids Rock's mission is to teach kids prevention at an early age.

It was "Kids Rock Philly" Race Day at Belmont Plateau where 2nd through 8th graders participated in a one-mile Fun Run to complete their very first marathon.

With guidance from their parents and teachers, the young runners had completed 25.2 miles at their own pace. They were one mile short of a marathon. They completed that final mile Thursday morning.

Qasim Gallashaw admitted to getting tired, but says he had lots of help.

"My friends came and helped me," "And they kept saying, I can do it!"

ING Kids Rock aligns with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" and healthy eating campaigns.

"Michelle Obama was trying to show us how to stay healthy by changing our food in the cafeteria to make sure we stay fit, so that there won't be so much childhood obesity in America," said 6th grader Tamia Harris.

The program is also teaming up with the President's challenge to reach as many kids as possible across the nation.

"I had a lot of fun, and I bet I lost a lot of pounds," said Maciah Nelson.

"I had my friend Cinaya to help me keep running and running and running," said Nicole Owen.

Olympic medalist, Rod Dixon says the goal for parents should be to get their kids to exercise at least three times a week.

"We know that if we get kids engaged in activity, we know it transfers into the classroom," Dixon said. "And if we can connect healthy eating, we got the ingredients for the future generation."

ESPN sportscaster, Bonnie Bernstein says prevention is the key.

"It's these messages early on that they take into their adulthood, and that is the way we really address this epidemic," said Bernstain.

No one was timed in the race, and there was no competition. It was all about helping kids develop a love for physical fitness at an early age, and to set them up for success in their lives.

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