Community members are gearing up for the second annual Cordova 5K Run — a benefit race that works to promote the advancement of students at the Cordova School. This year’s race will kick off June 15, and to help make the day a success, event planners are currently seeking the participation of both runners and volunteers.
According to Cordova School Principal Bonnilee Rhodes, proceeds from last year’s 5K sparked several updates with teaching technology throughout the school.
“We were able to provide each classroom with an Apple iPad,” Rhodes said. “The kids absolutely love them.”
It was just last year that Rhodes, along with parent Lori Swails, transformed idea into action to organize a different kind of school fundraiser — the Cordova 5K.
“It was right after Steve Jobs had died,” Swails said, recalling a documentary she’d seen about Jobs and the success of the innovative mobile device. “Out of all the accomplishments of the iPad, (Jobs) said he was most proud of the use of it with nonverbal children and adults.”
The segment that followed explained how the iPad can be used as communication tool for children and adults with disabilities — a notion that hit close to home for Swails.
“Our daughter doesn’t speak,” she said, explaining that her 14-year-old daughter Laynie, who attends Cordova School, suffered a stroke before she was born. “We’ve tried all of the different communication devices available for her … we saw all of the ones used in the past, and children just couldn’t understand them.”
Following the documentary, Swails said she purchased an iPad for Laynie and uploaded several learning applications and activities.
“She was really into it because it just gave her so much feedback,” Swails said. “And because she doesn’t have fine motor skills, she was able to swipe the screen with her fingers.”
After that, Swails took the idea to her daughter’s school.
“There are a lot of nonverbal kids at (Cordova School), so I talked to Ms. Rhodes and showed her the video — she was just blown away by it,” Swails said. “I told her that if we could work with some of these kids with iPads, we may see a breakthrough.”
To help fund the idea, Swails and Rhodes joined efforts to organize the school’s first 5K race.
“The run is 3.1 miles,” Rhodes said. “It begins here at the school and goes down Old Cheraw Highway.” Area police assist the school by ensuring that runners remain safe during the circuit. “Last year we had about 160 runners … it went so well.”
The success of the 5K, the principal said, was largely due to the support of community sponsors.
“Last year’s sponsors were very generous in what they offered,” she said. “They were so important to make this a success. With their help, we were able to order 10 iPads and had money to purchase apps for the children to use in the classroom.”
Since then, others at the Cordova School have jumped on board with use of the iPads.
“We’ve been talking about community helpers,” said teacher Darla McGuire, as she worked with student Saejin Ratliff on an iPad in her classroom. “We’re also using them to identify safety signs.”
With McGuire’s assistance, Saejin was able to point out specific road signs and job types as he utilized the touch screen of the device.
“When they talk to us about 21st century skills, this is a good way to bring the outside in for them,” McGuire said.
After last year’s breakthrough, Rhodes said the committee was dedicated to continuing the tradition and supporting students at the Cordova School. This year, all proceeds from the benefit race will go toward the development and support of interactive learning through technology and social inclusion with the community.
You do not have to be a runner, however, to enter the race.
“We had a lot of walkers last year,” Rhodes said. “We even had people pushing strollers. Just to see the starting line was exciting — it really was a lot of fun and we anticipate the same for this year.”
Rhodes added that Backlash Bluegrass, a band performing at last year’s race, will make a second appearance to entertain the crowd on June 15.
If you are interested in volunteering or serving as a sponsor for the race, contact the Cordova School at 997-9805. For more registration information or to find out how you can get involved, visit the event’s Facebook page by searching for Cordova 5K.