Some Tanglewood Elementary School students are running sprints and learning how to live healthier lifestyles as an extracurricular activity.

Melinda Howson, a PTA volunteer, is the coach for the Tanglewood Running Club that springs into action right after school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The club consists of third through fifth grade students from Tanglewood, who participate in marathons throughout the school year. These marathons include the Jingle Bell 5K, Cowtown Kids 5K and a kids mud run.

Two years ago, Howson was handed the running club folder at a PTA meeting and was told, “Here. Take this.” She has been working hard at it ever since.

“I’m passionate, so I want them to be passionate,” Howson said.

“I research P.E. programs and stuff like that to make it as enjoyable as possible for the kids,” Howson said. “At this age, if it isn’t fun, they don’t learn as much.”

While teaching correct running form, balance and agility, Howson also teaches good, healthy habits that she hopes will carry on into later life.

Each month the club has a different theme, such as endurance, speed, agility or balance, which Howson believes will lead to well-rounded kids and athletes.

As part of the reward program, kids get iron-on gold stars to put on their Running Club shirt for every five miles that they run.

“The stars are cool because they show that you’re skilled when you have a bunch,” fifth grader Connor Stooksberry said.

Howson said seeing the progress is very important.

“I like having all the kids chipped when they race, so they can see their progress,” Howson said. “Even if they shave off three minutes from one race to the next, they see they have gotten faster. Maybe it will give them a bug to try harder and go faster next time.”

The club meets from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. The club started Nov. 1 and lasts through the end of April. There is a $27 fee that covers all entry fees and includes a Tanglewood Running Club t-shirt.