TYLER (KYTX) - Tyler ISD is promoting family health and fitness with the Cougar Challenge Walking Club. Clarkston Elementary School students are lacing up their tennis shoes before school in hopes of winning a grand prize.
At 7:30 in the morning, Clarkston Cougars are walking as much as they can until it's time for school.
"Good job third grade."
Each lap gets them a straw.
"Good y'all. Keep it up."
Whoever wins the most straws by the end of the competition wins a free pair of new tennis shoes.
"I've gotten nine."
But, Clarkston Elementary PE teacher Happi Byrne says this program isn't really about the new shoes.
"I think it's so important. Just having the kids out here in the morning, it gets those endorphins going and just that little amount of walking they get to do for 20 minutes..."
She says exercise allows them to focus better in the classroom.
"It just gets them a little more calmed down and settled to learn when they get into the classroom, and you know, just to get a little bit of that morning energy out."
Research shows exercise promotes the growth of new cells in the hippocampus, an area in the brain associated with memory and learning.
"Exercise does help your brain." says Byrne.
Nine-year-old Carter Hayes enjoys it.
"I like talking with my friends while you go around the track. It makes me go a little bit faster. I don't even notice it."
Third grade student Noah Scott doesn't mind the extra exercise either.
"Because it helps your body." he says.
Byrne says this competition also teaches students the importance of working toward a goal. And, she says that's a great way to start the day.