When 13-year-old Sebastian Deoleo started running this summer at Hammocks Community Park, he did it with a purpose.
After 10 weeks of running every weekday, he earned the Miami Dade Parks’ record for running, clocking 145 total miles.
“I really wanted to do 200 miles, but it rained a lot,” said Sebastian, an eighth-grader at Hammocks Middle School in West Kendall.
Sebastian was one of 56 children to reach 100 miles or more in the county parks’ Morning Mile program, which took place over the summer at the county’s 42 parks. More than 100,000 miles were logged overall by the parks’ summer campers, setting a new Miami-Dade Parks’ record.
Morning Mile, sponsored by AvMed Health Plans, is a walking/running program geared toward fighting childhood obesity and encouraging children to be active.
For Sebastian and the other runners, the program offered a daily incentive.
“To show the kids what an accomplishment their running is, we give them a shoe charm for every five miles they run or walk,” said Robyn Brockington, the park manager of Hammocks Community Park.
Sebastian has been participating in his local park’s programs for the past five years, but decided to join Morning Mile after watching his peers do it in past years.
For most children in the program, 100 miles is the ultimate goal.
But after only five weeks of running, Sebastian had reached that, and was aiming for 200 miles.
“Every day, he would just go out on the track and run for as long as we’d let him,” Brockington said. “It was like he could keep going forever.”
Sebastian participates in his school’s cross country team and his park’s track team.
“With children like Sebastian, we get to see the success of the program,” Brockington said. “We want kids to feel that running and staying active can be rewarding.”