With a projected 17,000 people set to participate in Saturday’s Monumental Marathon, Kylie Knoblett was shocked to hear that Indianapolis was once one of the only major cities in the Midwest without a marathon.
Knoblett, a freshman at IUPUI, is just one of many kinesiology students involved with the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management (PETM) and the Monumental Kids Movement, an organization that helps kids at over 20 Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) prepare for the 5K component of this weekend’s race.
After her experiences working closely with students for the past six weeks, Knoblett had a hard time believing such an opportunity was once not as readily available.
“My time working with the kids is something I won’t easily forget,” Knoblett said. “I can’t image not being able to run with them, talk to them, or ask them how their day was. It’s almost crazy that this chance to work with the kids has only been around for three years.”
There was a chance, however, that such an opportunity would have never come about at all.
When faculty member and service-leaning supervisor Allison Plopper had first introduced the idea of pairing the school’s students with the various elementary schools in the city in 2012, first-year experience coordinator Lisa Angermeier hesitated. A lot was involved in such a project, and Angermeier was unsure if she was ready to take on the responsibilities that came with it.
Three years later, Angermeier is glad that Plopper was ready for the challenge.
“Letting students here at IUPUI and PETM work with students at the IPS schools has given them the chance to realize that not everybody comes from the same background,” Angermeier said. “That kind of exposure is very valuable early on, and this low-risk start to service learning is such a great entry into community and campus involvement.”
Mentors from PETM aren’t the only ones benefiting from the experience. Angermeier believes the program has a lot to offer for the IPS students as well as they train for an hour per week with IUPUI’s kinesiology students.
“The kids look up to our students and view them as role models,” Angermeier said. “It’s good for them to learn about the benefits of exercise from a mentor figure early.”
The Monumental 5K is set to start at 8:20 a.m. Nov. 7. The course will start and finish at an intersection of Capitol and Washington.
As they prepare to cross the finish line Saturday, Knoblett looks forward to seeing the culmination of her students’ efforts firsthand at the race.
“It’s always rewarding to watch kids succeed in something they love,” Knoblett said. “They’ve been working so hard, and it makes me really proud to know that I have the chance to be a part of this race with them. I can’t wait to see them finish.”