Around their playground they went, for at least a couple of laps in the blazing sun: a couple hundred Hoffer Heroes in the making, with an eye on the finish line, and a subliminal message of health and nutrition on their minds.

Last week, Hoffer Elementary School in Banning kicked off its Mighty Miler campaign, in which so many laps throughout the year will pay off in prizes and incentives — and healthier students.

Teacher Troy Sheldon and counselor Hannah Madrid helped coordinate the Mighty Miler campaign.

That last component was probably the most important one for Reanna Liversage, a nutrition technician with the Banning school district.

As students finished running a couple of laps, they were treated to unsweetened drinks, and low-sodium snacks, and were encouraged to bring home flyers for Rotary’s upcoming Desert Edge Challenge 5k-10k on Oct. 29.

“By kicking this off at Hoffer, we’re hoping to inspire other schools to follow,” Liversage said. “Our wellness initiative strives to improve health in schools, advocate policy change, and improve access to healthier foods, while promoting activity.”

Mayor Art Welch, Chief of Police Alex Diaz, and school board member Kerri Mariner, were on hand to support the event.

“It’s exciting to support these initiatives, and to see the community help thrive through healthier lifestyles,” Mariner said.

A few employees from the Riverside County Department of Public Health were distributing fruit-infused drinks, encouraging students to consider fruits and vegetables when reaching for snacks.

Representing Riverside County were health educators Hosea Jones and Christina Juarez, and health service assistant Anna Virgen.

“Kids should be aware that there are healthier alternatives,” Jones said. “They should be drinking more water, instead of drinking more sodas. Today we’re able to show them that water can be flavorful if infused with their favorite fruits or veggies.”

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