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RRCA Announces 2013 Kids Run the Nation Grant Recipients

The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is pleased to announce the 2013 Kids Run the Nation grant recipients. Twenty-five programs throughout the U.S. serving over 4,500 children will receive a total of $20,250 in grants from the RRCA. In addition, the RRCA will donate copies over 10,000 copies of the Kids Run the Nation: A Running Guide for Kids booklet to be given to program participants in thirty-four different programs, an in-kind donation to these programs valued at over $10,000.

Congratulations to the following grantees:

Mississippi Delta Runners – Sledge, MS
MS Delta Runners is an exciting, effective physical activity program for youth.  It is an after school program where exercise helps prepare student’s minds for better school performance.  A minimum of three times per week for an entire school year, children run on Delta Missions/Trinity Community Center parking lot. Children can run up to a total of six miles per week according to their running abilities. The after school program is based on individual performance and not competition. When the children complete their running for the day, they return to the center for a snack and to carry out other educational activities. In this program, children become fit and learn to change behaviors by setting and achieving personal goals.  The goal of the running program is to provide a fun, effective physical activity program for 200 children in grades 4-8.  Upon completion of the school year, each child will have earned a certificate to take home along with a congratulatory note to the parent. The children served reside in the Delta area of Mississippi, where children’s bellies were once distended from malnutrition, but are now the fattest region in America and lead the country in childhood obesity.  Eighty-eight percent of the children served are overweight or obese. 100% (200) of the children served by this program live in poor families defined as having income below 100% of the federal poverty level.

Kids Run/Walk Arkansas – Conway, AR
Based on the 2009-2010 Arkansas Center for Health Improvements Assessment of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in Arkansas, 34.8% of Faulkner County children are overweight or obese.  In addition, according to the 2012 County Health Rankings, Faulkner County is expected to see a 3.17%-5.19% increase over the next three years.  It is believed that children who are overweight are more likely to become overweight in adulthood.  Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and many other health problems. Long aware of this issue, Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center created the annual Kids Run Arkansas run/walk.  Over 200 kids participated in the inaugural event in 2009 and that number has increased to over 500 in 2013. For the program, highly-qualified Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center staff members train and equip physical education teachers and parent volunteers in schools to implement the proven Kids Run The Nation running and educational curriculum in before and after-school programs.      The program is offered twice a week for ten weeks for both semesters.  The Focus is on participation and developing a healthy lifestyle and lessons include running form, goal setting, nutrition, safety and other concepts. 

Navigator’s Running Club – Providence, RI
The Navigator’s Running Club is a group of students from Paul Cuffee Middle School (grades 6 - 8) who participate in a running club for approximately 6-8 weeks in the spring of each school year.  The running club will begin its fifth season in the spring of 2014. Students who enroll in the program run three times a week for at least 60 minutes. They are taught how to properly stretch, run at a relaxed pace, controlled breathing, and how to track distance.  They are also taught the importance of keeping their bodies hydrated.  The Navigator’s Running Club occasionally participates in friendly race competitions with local schools.  Students are presented with medals at the end of each club to recognize their efforts.  Paul Cuffee Middle School is a public charter school of choice located in Providence, RI.  77% of the students receive free and reduced lunch.  The program promotes a culture of health and fitness and we hope to expand the running club to younger grades.

Kids Run the Nation Saginaw – Saginaw, MI
KRTN-Saginaw follows the 10-lesson program guide provided by RRCA through its national Kids Run the Nation program.  Lessons are taught during a one-hour period over a 10-week time frame, with 20 minutes of instruction followed by 40 minutes of a running activity and games.  The program meets a maximum of three times a week, and has partnered with Saginaw Valley State University to provide student athlete volunteers as well as other community partners who visit “club” to talk about specific topics; e.g. nutrition and form.  Every participant is provided with a t-shirt, a backpack tag, a KRTN booklet, a journal, and a snack at the end of each lesson. The program concludes with a celebratory 1 mile race.  Presently, the program has 114 children from K-5th grade registered.  The program has expanded from the initial “pilot” school (44 participants) to two other schools and plans are in place to also expand to the local YMCA during the summer of 2014. The projected number of youth served from Fall 2013 to Summer of 2014 is approximately 230. 

Jemez Valley Cross Country/100 Mile Club – Jemez Pueblo, NM
The two running clubs serve grades K-8th and include 145 runners. In the 100 Mile Club, students from K-5th have the entire year to run or walk 100 miles. When students complete their miles, they log them on their tracker sheet. Students earn toe tokens every 10 miles. They also receive tokens at the 25 mile, 50 mile, 75 mile and 100 mile marker. There is even a 200 mile token. The clubs serve the students of Jemez Springs, Gilman, Canon, Ponderosa, La Cueva, and two Native American reservations, Zia and Jemez. Running is the most popular sport in the area and running is a big part of the Native American way of life and the majority of the program’s runners are native. Students in the running club are taught perseverance, teamwork, pacing, goal setting, energy balance and the importance of exercise.   

SRR Kids – West Somerville, MA
Somerville Road Runners (SRR), a nonprofit running organization, developed a youth running program that began in October 2013. The program included boys and girls in kindergarten through 8th grade in Somerville, Massachusetts. SRR Kids is a free, community based and non-competitive. The emphasis of this program is on participation, developing a healthy lifestyle, and having fun.  Coaches use lesson plans and programming developed by the RRCA “Kids Run the Nation” Program. During twice-weekly practices, SRR Kids warm up through cooperative games and team-building activities and then walk, jog or run for progressively longer times each week. At the end of 8 weeks, SRR Kids will be conditioned to participate in a local, kid-friendly run/walk. Each participant is assigned a coach to mentor and support them throughout the program.  SRR is in the process of collecting donations for winter running gear so that all children can participate, regardless of SES. Children in the Somerville community come from increasingly diverse backgrounds. In addition to the racial breakdown listed above, 52% of children come from a home where English is not the first language. 68% of children are from low-income homes.  The SRR Kids Program will be ongoing in structured 8-9 week cycles at least once per season. The next (second) SRR Kids season will start in January 2014.

Hiawatha Elementary Run Club - Othello, WA
Hiawatha Elementary is a Title I school and 87% of our students qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch.  88% of the school population is Hispanic. All students are encouraged to run around a 1/4mile course on the school’s playground at lunch recess and 300 children participate in the program.  Playground supervisors hand out a popsicle sticks to each student for each lap they complete.  Teachers help students calculate the amount of miles run after the recess. Students are encouraged with recognition awards for the miles they run.  Given the weather in the area, the club operates for the month of October and then April and May.  There is also a class competition to see which class in each grade level can run the most combined miles.  The Physical Education teacher is committed to promoting the program and several teachers and staff will go out occasionally and run or walk with the students.

Patterson Park Public Charter School Running Club – Baltimore, MD
The goal of the PPPCS Running Club is to develop happy, physically-educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, motivation and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. The program believes that through a consistent and incremental push for growth as a runner, each student will be lead to an increase in endurance, speed, and determination. During the 10-week program, students will explore the benefits of running, physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to physical fitness, the program focuses on issues such as improvement in body image, eating attitudes and self-esteem.  Students in grades pre-kindergarten through 8th grade are welcome to attend and 83% of students receive free or reduced lunch.  The PPPCS Running Club serves as an after-school running club for students in grades Pre-K-8 at Patterson Park Public Charter School. The club meets for training each week, working toward the goal of completing a 5k race at the end of a 10-week program. The training plan is structured based on allowing students to have fun running while learning how to grow as an athlete as well as to be on a team of runners. The program is open to both boys and girls and, and has a coaching crew comprised of teachers and other approved parent volunteers at the school.

Longridge Running Club - Greece, NY
There are two parts to this program.  One is new, and one began in 2012.  The 2012 program was an after school club that met once per week for 8 weeks concluding with “The Longridge Mile” and used the lessons in the Kids Run the Nation program guide. The runners consisted of students that were selected specifically because of social-emotional needs, and all were in 3rd-5th grade.  After 8 weeks, all kids were able to complete the mile run with tons of cheering classmates and teachers watching them. They each received a medal (which the kids wore for weeks after the race), an apple, and a bottle of water.  The program is continuing this fall for another group of 30 students, but this time there is an offer all students to come down to the gym or go to a marked course outside and “run a marathon”. They will keep track of laps and log their progress throughout the school year. When they reach 26.2 miles they will earn a certificate and a ribbon. They will also earn a spot on the Marathon finisher’s wall. 

Nelson Navigators Run for Fun - Galesburg, IL
Nielson Navigators Run for Fun is an 8-week youth running program that meets two nights a week. The program is open to interested K-5th grade students. Nielson Elementary School, which has an enrollment of 430 students and where 70% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, does not offer sports to youth. Many students are unable to participate in team sports, dance, karate, acrobats, and other activities due to the cost and transportation. This program is meant to get students excited about staying healthy and running. The program meets the Kids Run the Nation criteria by using the program guidelines. The program incorporates healthy eating by providing students with a healthy snack, teaching students the importance of and how to stretch, having students set a goal of what they want to accomplish, teaching students how to chart their progress, providing students a safe place to exercise, teaching students how to be part of a team and cheer one another on, and teaching students how to cool down after running.

Keowee Kids Running Club – Seneca, SC
Keowee Kids Running Club is offered free of charge to all students at Keowee Elementary School from grades K-5.  The running club kicked-off on Sept. 20, 2013, coinciding with the RRCA’s National Run@School Day. After that, the group has met every Monday and Thursday through May 2014 from 3:00-3:45.  There is a great need for after school activities at Keowee Elementary and the program is able to provide kids an opportunity to play recreational sports they may not otherwise receive. The club’s focus is on participation, not competition.  Kids set personal goals and take pride in their achievements.

Ontarioville Owls – Hanover Park, IL
The afterschool program is a running and track program for 5th and 6th grade students. As a Title I school, many students are at risk and are in need of alternative activities to do after school.  The running program, serving over 45 youths, provides an opportunity for students to exercise their minds and bodies by providing education on healthy living, eating and running opportunities.  The Ontarioville Owls running club meets 2-3 times a week in during the second and third trimester of school.

Pomaika’i Running Club - Kahului, HI
The Pomaik’i Running Club serves over 50 children, ages 5-10 and is very diverse (36% Filipino, 22% White, 15% Hawaiian, 15% Japanese, 3% Hispanic, 2% Portuguese, 7% Other). The running program started with the 2013 school year, and parent volunteers train with the kids for 45 minutes twice a week leading up to and during the Valley Isle Road Runners Youth Cross Country Season. The program focuses on pacing, using games to make it fun. The grant funds will help sustain the program so children can participate in the Maui 5K, which benefits area schools. The program volunteers have undergone background checks through the school in order to be able to work with the children.

Cavanaugh Kids Run the Nation – Lansing, MI
The Cavanaugh Kids Run the Nation is a 36-week long mileage club.  Students walk, run or jog with their teachers on a quarter mile course at recess and/or during their lunch break. Students receive a punch card to track their miles and upon reaching monthly goals and “milestone miles,” students will receive tokens which they collect on a chain.  An end-of-the-year fun run in the community culminates participation in the club. Parents and guest from the community will be invited to run/walk the course with their children on special seasonal themed days (School Days Stomp, Fall Fest, etc.). The goals of the program are as follows: reduce playground discipline problems by involving children in a constructive, group activity that increases self-esteem; increasing daily physical activity and learning about the benefits of running; involving parents and the community in physical activity at school.  Students will be taught proper running form, pacing and other related topics through the use of the RRCA curriculum as well as from guest teachers from the local running community. Cavanaugh Elementary School serves students and families in a low-income neighborhood. The school has approximately 240 students, grades kindergarten to third.  75% of the population receives free/reduced lunch. 

Birney Running Club – San Diego, CA
Birney Running Club is a before school running program.  Every day, students are given the opportunity to walk or jog around the track for 20-minues before school starts.  The program attracts over 350 children from the diverse student population: 45% Hispanic, 25% White, 16% Black, 9% Mixed Race, 4% Asian.  They carry cards with them that are stamped for each lap completed.  When they have accumulated 26 laps (approximately 5 miles) they are given a shoe token. On Wednesday mornings, the first 100 runners have the option of challenging themselves by running a timed mile. Their times are posted on a paper shoe that is on a board and as their times improve, the shoe is updated. The shoes also have a star on them for every mile attempted. In addition, the faster runners are striving to qualify for the Chelsea King Invitational Mile, a local race that draws fast milers to compete against each other.  The Birney Running Club is open to the entire Birney family - the K-5th student-body; younger siblings of students; parents and teachers have all been participants.

YMCA in Woodbury Kids Run the Nation – Woodbury, MN
The YMCA youth program, taught by an RRCA Certified Coach, serves children ages 4-13 and is open to the community. The programs meets for one hour a week as a run club for a lesson based around other wellness topics and children complete a workout that is age-appropriate. Healthy snacks are provided, and participants sign up for seven weeks at a time, with a fun run at the end of each of the 14 weeks. During the summer, numbers increase and the programs works to get camp participants involved, as well as special needs program participants. The summer session includes family fun run to get everyone involved, with promotional shirts and healthy snacks. Every workout is tracked and prized are given for running the most miles, best attendance, etc. in order to encourage goal-setting.

Clover Quick Feet – Los Angeles, CA
Clover Quick Feet began during the 2013-14 school year. The school is K-5th grade and the program serves all students, 650, at this diverse school: 44% Asian, 28% White, 16% Hispanic, 10% Black, 2% Native American. As a new club, it meets three times a week in the morning before school begins and is led by a parent volunteer. The children run, jog or walk their laps holding a special “lap card”, laps are checked off as they are completed. After three miles they earn a necklace and charms. Each card completed earns them another charm to add to their necklace. The teachers and parents have expressed gratitude and are impressed by the marked difference already in the children’s ability to focus and behave in class on run club days.

Esperanza Eagles - Greenwood, IN
The program is designed to keep children active and healthy throughout the year and serves immigrants, refugees, and language minorities in central Indiana. Nearly all participants qualify for free and reduced lunches at their schools. The program is gender inclusive and targets children ages 6-14, offering weekly Monday evening programming at a local library located next door to a public park and track. There, the children and their families learn about nutrition and healthy choices, and then have the opportunity to train in the park and on the track. In addition to the Monday night meetings, there are also Saturday practices twice a month. While the children are learning about running and nutrition, their parents are learning how to make healthy decisions while still eating foods they enjoy. The volunteers which mentor them as they run also mentor them throughout the week, eating lunch with them at school or helping them with homework, emphasizing that health is a daily endeavor. These volunteers participate in cultural training and are given background checks prior to becoming mentors. Kids run, stretch, work on pacing, encouraging each other, and even do relay races. The spring program culminates in a Family Fun Run, in which children run 1 mile or a 5k, and receive prizes not just for winning, but for meeting personal goals they set for themselves throughout the program.

Jackie Kids Run the Nation – San Diego, CA
The Jackie Kids Run the Nation Club will follow the 10week Kids Run the Nation program materials provided on the RRCA website. The program runs as part of the wellness program at the Y’s branch location, which serves a diverse population that is largely Hispanic/Latino and African-American. All youth members of our YMCA are invited to participate in this program at no charge. The program runs two days per week for ten weeks in fall and spring with continued running clubs for kids that have already been through the ten week program. The Jackie Kids Run the Nation program meets after school and consists of 20 youth for fall and 20 youth for spring. The program culminates in a youth 1 mile fun run at our Healthy Kids Day celebration on April 26, 2014. 

Grand Strand Running Club Kids Running – Myrtle Beach, SC
The Grand Strand Running Club (GSRC) has had a Kids Running program since 2010. The program has been based on the Kids Run the Nation program of the Road Runners Club of America and has taught Elementary and Middle grade school children, as well as their parents, the principles of non-competitive running. The Spring 2012 GSRC Kids Running class consisted of 20+ participants and at the end of the program participants were entered, at no cost, in a local 5K race. In the fall of 2012 the Club supported Ocean Bay Elementary school’s (OBES) 4th and 5th grade after school running program, which consists of 60+ children. Participants were entered in a local Reindeer Run 5K in early December at no cost to the kids. The program stresses principles of safe running, stretching, warming-up, cooling-down, hydration and healthy eating are taught. Participants are given incentive awards, written materials, and T-shirts. Each class is coached by a GSRC member. The aim of this 10 week, no-cost program is to introduce children to the joys of running and healthy living that will benefit them throughout their life. It is anticipated that in the future the program will be expanded to include other Horry County schools.

Torres Running Club – Los Angeles, CA
The running club serves high school aged runners at the Torres High School campus and meets three times a week to run/walk on the field at the local high school, around the community, and in various other locations. The program runs for approximately 9 months and concludes before state testing and finals begin. The program encourages collaboration, goal setting, and a healthy lifestyle for the students. The school is located in a densely populated urban area that is notorious for social issues including: gang activity, teen pregnancy, and drug use.  In addition, many of the families in East Los Angeles suffer from long-term health care problems such as diabetes and obesity. Many students do not finish high school and fewer pursue a four year degree. Only 20% of the school’s graduates in 2012 enrolled in a four-year college.  The program hopes to engage students in a fun and dynamic atmosphere that encourages them to respect themselves by accomplishing small running goals throughout the school year to build both self-confidence and school attachment.  The program also focuses on improving health by establishing a more active lifestyle.

YMCA Club South Youth Runners Program – Baton Rouge, LA
This new program is collaboration between the Club South Runners and the local YMCA and severs over 100 children.  Each organization is committed to encouraging healthy lifestyles for members of their community.  Both organizations noticed a need in their community for a youth running program that included more than just girls.  The program uses the Kids Run the Nation materials as their guide. Volunteers from the local running club along with YMCA staff meet once a week with children in grades K-8th.

Gator Trek Club – Pine Hill, NJ
The program is open to all students in grades K-5 and also encourages parents, all staff of the school, and community members including the local police department to join them. Each week last year, a few members of the Pine Hill Police Department came out and ran with the children. The school principal and district superintendent also participated in a few sessions. Having these adults come out and run was inspiring to the older students and the ‘little ones’ found it pretty cool as well and these adults have already agreed to do so this year as well. The program meets one day a week, for one hour after school, beginning in March and ending in late May.  Each session begins with a mini lesson from the Kids Run the Nation Program Guide. Students are educated in nutrition, stretching, running stamina, and setting goals. Participants then run each week, first working on pacing, and then setting weekly group goals for the K-2 students and independent goals for the three-to-five students.  The program also utilizes the playground track (1/8 mile) for younger students; and the distance around the school for the older students. Participants end the program in a One Mile Fun Run in late May.

Eagle Ridge Elementary PTA Running Club – Ft. Worth, TX
The Eagle Ridge Elementary PTA Running Club is a weekly after school opportunity for all children to come together and learn about healthy lifestyle habits, build lasting friendships, increase their self-confidence, and get exercise while having fun. The program strongly focuses on educational components and achieving goals.  As an existing program for the last seven years, it has proven to be a successful running club within the school community. All children who attend Eagle Ridge Elementary are invited and encouraged to participate. Generally, around 150 children participate each year with ages ranging from K-4th grade. The demographic makeup, on average, is 50.2% girls and 49.8% boys.  The program has two seasons, which start in October and end at the end of the school year in May. In addition to running weekly, students are encouraged to participate in district wide running opportunities. For instance, Run in the Dark is a 5K and 1-mile Fun Run where participants run at night to raise awareness and funds to help kids in the Keller and Northwest Independent School Districts succeed in school throughout the year. In September 2013, Eagle Ridge Elementary had over 400 people participate and won the Storehouse Cup Trophy for the third year in a row. This award is given to the school with the highest amount of attendance and participation.

YMCA Day Camp/Gadsden Runners Club Youth Division Club – Gadsden, AL
In its initial year, the YMCA Day Camp/Gadsden Runners Club (GRC) Youth Running Division had 64 Campers, male and female, ages 6-12 years, who signed up to participate in a 10 week running program throughout the Summer. The Day Camp staff encouraged the youth to run a minimum of ½ mile four days a week and many runners ran more, up to 2-3 miles a day. The GRC provided medals for children who accomplished certain goals, awarding 31 Participant medals, 25 Half Marathon Winners for those who ran a total of 13.1 miles and eight children Marathon Medals for those who completed 26.2 miles.  The program serves many children in the Gadsden area who are foster children, in DHR custody or have many other financial needs. These children do not have access to organized sports otherwise.

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