Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
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A private school in Mandeville is taking on Louisiana's 'D' rating for youth health one mile at a time with a new program picking up across the country.

Cedarwood School in Mandeville is the first school in the state to start 'The Morning Mile.' The activity, held before school starts every morning, has grown to more than a hundred students and is aimed simply at being healthy.

Teachers and parents get in on the challenge too.

Mom Jane Pigott said, 'Every morning, she chooses to get up, she sets herself a goal and then she does her best to meet it and to me that's one of the best things about the program.'

The immediate motivations every morning are straws. One straw is awarded for every lap. Seven laps equal a mile. When a student gets five miles, they get a shoe charm to show off on a necklace. The long-term motivation is how many of the charms kids can rack up.

Cedarwood Athletic Director Karen Groce said, 'They're excited about it. They run up to me and say Coach K, when do I get my next shoe? How many shoes do I have? They're motivated in order to do this, which in turn, will help them in a multitude of directions.'

''Do you feel healthier, more energetic?' Yes,' said Fourth grader Spender Georges, 'Because like usually all the people beat me, I'm winning this time.'

'It's healthy to run and not sit around and doing nothing,' said Third grader Svenya Stoyanoff.

Mile totals are tallied up daily, putting the school at 1,500 miles to date.

There are almost a hundred schools across the country taking part in 'The Morning Mile,' while 150 more are just waiting on a sponsor to get started.

To get more details about the program, visit our 'Links on 4' page.

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