Running USA Youth Program News and Award Finalists
February 4, 2008
From Running USA wire.
By Linda Honikman, Running USA Youth Committee coordinator
Youth runs and fitness programs that are affiliated with some of the country's best road races are thriving. The top 75 are providing more than 300,000 youth with quality running based programs annually and the majority of the fitness programs are less than 5 years old. The Running USA Youth Committee and YouthRunner.com have announced the following finalists for this year's youth program awards.
Youth Programs of the Year Finalists
Atlanta Track Club, Kilometer Kids
In just its first year, Kilometer Kids has affected the lives of many young children who participated over a ten week period in the fall. The Kilometer Kids were encouraged to meet twice a week, track their progress along the way and complete a marathon with the culmination at the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. Impressively, one-third of the 238 young athletes from 6 Boys & Girls Club sites who completed their running program are now out of the overweight / obese category.
Crim Youth Program, Flint, MI
Having a full time Youth Program Coordinator since 1998 has enabled the Crim Festival to offer the Crim Kids Neighborhood Running Club, Teddy Bear Trot, Crim Kids Classic and the Crim School Mileage Club. During the 2007-08 school year to-date there are almost 50 Crim Mileage Club schools with approximately 8,000 participants. School assemblies featuring Running Bear and copies of Running Bear Book have been added to motivate students to begin running and walking. Over its 20 year history, the Crim School Mileage Club has involved over 100,000 elementary school students and in the near future programs will be offered at middle and high schools.
GO! St. Louis Read, Right & Run Marathon(R)
This successful youth program was launched in 2001 with 400 children and 30 participating schools. It continues today with more than 3,000 children and 105 schools enrolled. The program challenges participants to Read 26 books, Right the community with 26 good deeds, and Run 26.2 miles over a six-month period. All of that hard work culminates the day before the GO! St Louis Marathon when K-5 students run their final 1.2 miles and the middle schoolers run a 5K. An estimated 12,550 children have been impacted by the program since its inception. In 2007, the Ultramarathon of 50 mile goals and Saturday "training runs" were added for middle school students. To evaluate the program's effectiveness, eight schools are taking part in a before and after pilot evaluation.
Healthy Kids, Marine Corps Marathon
The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM)'s Healthy Kids Fun Run was introduced in 2000. The event seeks to excite children about exercise and running and create a new generation of marathoners. The just-for-fun one-mile course is open to children ages 6-13 and held the day prior to the MCM at the Pentagon. In 2007, the run welcomed its largest race field of over 1,900 children. In recent years the MCM has introduced the Healthy School Award that is presented with a donation for PE to the school that has the most Fun Run participants, bulldog ambassadors of fitness, Miles and Molly, and an engaging children's book called "Miles, Run Miles!"
ING Run for Something Better, Miami
Started in 2006, the Fit Miami Foundation and ING created the ING Run for Something Better Miami, a unique and large scale program offered free to 88,000 students in all Miami Dade Middle Schools. The South Florida population has a high risk for obese or overweight children and the RFSB was designed to foster support for PE and active lifestyles. Over 15 weeks, children are encouraged to run 25 miles during PE, making running laps exciting, rather than a punishment. Participating students and coaches are transported to the ING Miami Marathon to run the Final Mile, finishing along with 15,000 runners and thousands of spectators. ING also sponsors Run for Something Better programs in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis.
Junior Great Race, Pittsburgh, PA
The Dollar Bank Junior Great Race, the offspring of Pittsburgh's Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race 10K and 5K, is a multi-faceted fitness event that offers three separate non-timed competitions for children and youth. It began with the concept of having Pittsburgh's avid parent runner population serve as the example in recruiting younger children into healthy play behaviors and enjoyable fitness based competitions. There is the one-mile run/walk for youth 5 & over, the Tot-Trot for toddlers through 4 years of age and the Diaper Dash. Participation has ranged from just over 500 to over 1,000 energetic kids during its colorful twelve-year history.
Just Run, Big Sur Marathon, Monterey, CA
The Big Sur International Marathon's highly acclaimed youth fitness program JUST RUN is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. During its second full year of implementation 4,300 children in 41 schools and youth organizations logged over 134,000 miles and performed 11,500 "Just Deeds." Seven to eight thousand are expected to be participating by the end of this school year and satellite programs have begun in several other states. With the help of Active.com, Just Run has enhanced its comprehensive website (JustRun.org) including more Spanish translation. A recent analysis of Just Run statistics in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District confirmed that Just Run works. For the five Just Run schools that had programs in the 2005-06 school year, students passing the aerobic capacity test went from an average of 58.7% in 2004-05 to 80.5% in 2006-07. All other fitness categories tested in these schools revealed improvement. The eight schools that did not have Just Run actually showed DECREASES in performance in most categories.
Many Milers, RunVermont
In 1998 RunVermont established the Many Milers fitness and nutrition program to promote healthy lifestyles from an early age. It is a statewide, comprehensive program that encourages youth ages 4 to 14 to earn activity and nutrition miles over a 7 month period. Participants track mileage in educational log books, receive incentives every 10 miles and are encouraged to enroll in multiple running events sponsored by RunVermont such as the Y.A.M. Scram the day before the KeyBank Vermont Marathon. Activity miles can be earned by running, walking, skiing or participating in an organized sport and bonus nutrition miles can be earned by eating well. The Many Milers Program was so well-received that schools and community groups in other states have joined.
Medtronic TC Kids Marathon, Minneapolis
The Medtronic TC Kids Marathon is a community-wide effort to inspire healthy lifestyles among children in grades K-6. Through an interactive website (MTCMarathon.org) and training program, kids in schools and families can start "Running One Mile at a Time" over the course of 4, 8 or 12-weeks. The final half or full mile of their program can then be run at one (or all) of three events throughout the year: in May (Cross-Country), October (Road) and February (Indoor Track). In the Spring of 2007, 7,500 pedometers were requested by more than 42 schools and 1,250 children ran in the inaugural May event. After training in the Summer, 1,700 children ran 1 or 1/2 miles during the October Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon weekend and 250 students were able to move up to the TC 5K. In 2007, 312 teachers and 1,236 families used the web resources.
Youth Programs Contributor of the Year Finalists
Nike 5K Run for Kids Series
The mission of the Nike 5K Run for Kids is to help kids become healthier and to raise much needed funding for local school play and PE programs. Over the past 8 years to date, $1,039,275 has been donated to schools and 69,285 kids and their families and friends have participated. In 2007, events were held in Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Honolulu and Las Vegas. Of the 24,385 runners, 53% were under 18. Highlights in 2007 included 100% of entry fees and $60,000 of shoes donated to schools, Kids Training Runs and school visits by NIKETOWN staff, PE Teacher Appreciation Nights and first class event execution.
Richmond Sport Backers
Since the spring of 2005, Fit for Life programs created by Richmond Sport Backers to help reduce childhood obesity have encouraged youth to run or walk 26 miles over the course of a 10-week period, culminating with either the Richmond Times-Dispatch Kids Run in the fall, or the First Market Mile Kids Run in the spring. Over 3,000 elementary and middle school youth participated in the free, incentive based Fit for Life Kids Challenge last spring and the program's culminating First Market Mile had a record 1,787 entries. In the fall, Sport Backers conducted the "Save Our Kids: The Obesity Crisis Conference" with representatives from seven states who shared information on what is working to get kids more healthy. More than 170 local teachers, administrators, health professionals and concerned citizens attended and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Saucony Run for Good
Since 2006, the Saucony Run for Good Foundation has awarded more than $300,000 to 35 organizations who are working to curb childhood obesity through youth fitness programs. Grant recipients announced in January include a new fitness program held in conjunction with the Flying Pig Marathon. The Nutrition Council of Cincinnati is partnering with the marathon to provide incentives to teach children healthy habits. The Flying Piglet Kids Marathon program encourages children to walk, run or wheelchair 26.2 miles over three months. Other recent recipients include the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Maricopa Council on Youth Sports and Physical Activity, the Outdoor Industry Foundation's Teens Outside program, the Achilles Track Club in New York, Boys and Girls Clubs in Ogden, Utah and elementary schools in Naperville, Illinois and Hartsville, Tennessee.
Winners will be announced at the ING Hall of Champions Awards Dinner and Auction at the annual Running USA Conference, Monday, February 11 at the Torrey Pines Hilton, La Jolla, California.
More conference information including registration, hotel reservations, schedule, speakers and list of attendees is available at: www.runningusa.org/conference/rusa2008.shtml