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Spokeswoman Anne Garrett runs with children at Palmquist Elementary School to encourage physical fitness. Courtesy Photo
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Organization aims to get kids moving one step at a time

REGION—Kathy Kinane is trying to curb childhood obesity, one step at a time. Her foundation, Move Your Feet Before You Eat aims to educate children about the positive effects of exercise.

She stresses the importance of exercise as a social activity that brings friends and families together.

“It’s more about having physical activity be something you share,” said Kinane, “It’s more important for you to share that experience than to have one person (running) in front of the other, which I think discourages people from getting into sports.”

Since 2006, the foundation has granted more than $140,000 to schools and non-profits dedicated to get kids moving.

She and spokeswoman Anne Garrett target schools in Oceanside because, she said, parents aren’t as involved in children being active.

“Oceanside had some of the lowest fitness scores in the county and some of the highest rates of childhood obesity. We felt like that was a good place to start,” said Kinane.

When she and spokeswoman Garrett work with the kids, they encourage them to start out slowly and work up to general fitness.

She said doing this prevents kids from feeling defeated, which can sometimes happen when they go all out at the beginning of a run and lose steam by the end.

“If you teach them to run and walk, they’ll get much better results,” said Kinane, “The gradual approach of interval training is so much more effective.”

During the foundation’s first year, she worked with Nike to donate 180 pairs of running shoes to middle school students in Oceanside.

She chose the middle schools because the students were getting the worst fitness scores, which she said was because of an attitude among the kids that physical exercise was “uncool.”

“In middle school and high school your whole focus is on your social life and we want this to be your social life,” said Kinane, about exercising.

Exercising with others also creates a higher level of accountability said Kinane. People are less likely to skip out on physical activity if they’re obligated to meet up with somebody, she said.

She also credits the rise in smart phones and videogames to a decrease in physical fitness among children.

Her company, Kinane Events, produces races throughout southern California.

She puts on the Turkey Trot in Oceanside every Thanksgiving and encourages participants to donate $5 of the entry fee to a non-profit of their choice that serves Oceanside residents.

She said that the races she puts on are not meant to promote competition. Instead she wants to get people exercising together.

Her website offers a free download of an eight week training program to get people ready to complete a 5k in under an hour.

For the coming school year, she plans on meeting with PTAs throughout Oceanside to encourage walking busses.

A walking bus is a supervised walk to school, where one parent walks to houses on the way to school to accompany the kids.

Kinane believes it’s crucial for kids to exercise in order to keep their concentration in class.

The foundation recently received a $5,000 grant from Toyota of Carlsbad after getting the most votes as part of the “We Care You Choose” charity campaign.