Running club gives northeast Oklahoma City girls special space

Students at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Oklahoma City formed a girls running club and plan to participate in 5K races.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: February 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013

On rainy afternoons, Lydia Dowdell and all her runners stay inside. They make laps back up and down the hallways. It's the equivalent of a treadmill, but for elementary school students.

Dowdell and four of her fellow teachers lead the girls running club at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in northeast Oklahoma City.

Even if indoor laps aren't the best, it's still a chance for about 30 young girls to learn, Dowdell said.

“I want them to know they can,” she said. “They can be whatever they want to be if they work for it. I want them to know they're great.”

Dowdell is a longtime physical education teacher who's worked at this school for five years.

The club runs twice a week — Wednesdays and Fridays. About 30 come each time, depending on after-school tutoring. If the weather is cold or rainy, they stay inside and run in the hallways. Sometimes they'll do line dancing instead. The rest of the time, they're outside.

In December, about 20 of the girls participated in the SandRidge Santa Run. The company gave the girls free race entries and T-shirts.

“They loved it,” Dowdell said. “They'd never done an organized run before.”

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