KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley is this year’s Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon community partner.

The nonprofit is encouraging the good habit of regular exercise and hundreds of club members are participating in the Kids Run. 

“If we can instill that habit with our kids at those young ages to where they understand the benefits of an active lifestyle, but it makes it easy. Once you do it and you’re doing it regularly it makes it much easier to maintain long term,” said Bart McFadden, President and CEO at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. 

Kids are walking, jogging or exercising the distance of a marathon over the two months leading up to the main event. Each child received a pedometer to track their steps. 

“We are doing one step equals a foot so 5,280 steps in a mile, so they are working towards a little over 133,000 steps that they are going to take for this 26.2 miles,” said Chara Carey, the healthy lifestyles program specialist.

They can also use the pedometer to set goals to challenge themselves and stay motivated before race weekend in April. 

“They have a great time! I see pictures all the time like look at my steps, how far am I, how many do you have? So, they are really competitive, and they love it,” said Carey. 

Proceeds from the race will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. McFadden said after the pandemic it’s been a priority to pour dollars back into the Boys and Girls Clubs health and wellness programs. 

“About a year and a half ago we started really investing and reinvesting into the health and wellness programs in our clubs to make sure kids are more physically active. During COVID we lost a lot of that, so we restarted our basketball programs, intramural soccer, flag football, and then we are doing this with track,” said McFadden. 

The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley offers youth development services to more than 7,200 kids in five counties.