Winchell Elementary students run for recess Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 | KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Getting kids up and active remains an important part of development.This week, we took a look at what the steps one Kalamazoo school has taken to make that happen.Winchell Elementary School has integrated running laps as a way of life--about 450 kids, every day, running before they can have free play at recess.Principal Mike Hughes said that with the help of parents, the school started the regimen this year."We see kids getting more exercise at recess time. If they do nothing else, at least they run that third of a mile," Hughes said.Winchell parent Mary Kate Goodwin-Kelly told us, "I think this way it ensures that kids are going to come out here and not just sit around. They're going to get some exercise."According to Principal Hughes, the kids have run a combined 21,000 miles so far this year.That would be the rough equivalent of running the United States coast-to-coast. Seven times.Everyone now says that getting the kids to run a third of a mile was initially a tough sell, but they also agree that many kids are now coming around."I think still if you polled 100 kids, 20 would say they wouldn't do it if they weren't forced, but I think most kids enjoy it," said Principal Hughes.5th Grader Olivia Oosterbaan said, "It's nothing. It doesn't take much anymore."Oosterbaan also said she enjoyed the run, because "it gets me warmed up for what I'm going to play next."Unsurprisingly, Principal Hughes is an avid runner, having just finished the Kalamazoo Half-Marathon this past Sunday.