Lots of smiles and racing hearts at Hillsboro Healthy Kids track meet

An after school track program operating since April 1 culminated in a big final meet.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:39 AM PDT
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HILLSBORO, Ore. (KPTV) - An after school track program operating since April 1 culminated in a big final meet.

There were a whole lot of smiles and racing hearts at Hare Field on Thursday afternoon.

“The idea is to get kids access to doing something that’s healthy and positive and makes them feel accepted and included,” said Rian Petrick, Hillsboro School District Director of Extracurricular Activities & Athletics. “Trying to have events that are easy for kids to be able to access is really, really important.”

Petrick is a Glencoe High School class of ‘91 alum and the big brother to former Major League Baseball catcher Ben Petrick. Their father was longtime Crimson Tide athletic director, Vern Petrick.

The VP Legacy Foundation helps fund the Hillsboro Healthy Kids endeavor.

“We started this program a couple of years before COVID hit and the goal was to try to increase pride within our feeder groups; we have four in Hillsboro, Century, Liberty, HilHi and Glencoe, and we just try to get kids out,” Petrick said.

Getting out on the track for free and fun around the starting gun.

“You need to teach them to run in a straight line! Stay in their lane,” explained Petrick.

Most of the 27 elementary schools in Hillsboro were represented at Hare Field on Thursday with another 200 or so kids to come out to next weeks event since interest and inclusion was at a new high for the 10-week program.

“I think coming out of the pandemic, so many people kind of withdrew inside and particularly kids. It became more difficult to put themselves out there and take risks so hopefully this provides that for them today,” Petrick said. “Play is the language that kids speak, right? This is a great way for them to practice those skills and hopefully just get themselves in a place where they’re healthier both physically, mentally and social and emotionally so they can thrive in school.”

The Hillsboro Healthy Kids program is more than a one-man team.

“Thankfully we have an awesome group of people in Hillsboro and we just have a ton of help. These are all, basically staff members with a few parent volunteers that are giving up their time after school after they put in a full day of work to do this,” Petrick said.