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RRCA Awards Twenty-Five Kids Run the Nation Grants for 2014 to Programs Serving over 8,000 Children

The RRCA is pleased to announce the 2014 Kids Run the Nation grant recipients. Twenty-five programs throughout the U.S. serving over 8,000 children will receive a total of $20,000 in grants from the RRCA. In addition, the RRCA will donate over 18,000 copies of the Kids Run the Nation: A Running Guide for Kids booklets to be given to program participants in over 100 different programs, an in-kind donation to these programs valued at over $20,000.

Since 2007, the RRCA has provided over $115,000 in small grants, along with donating tens of thousands of copies of Kids Run the Nation Program Guide and kids booklets, to deserving youth running programs around the country through the Kids Run the Nation Fund. The Kids Run the Nation Fund is designed to provide needed resources to launch and support youth running programs as an opportunity to address the on-going inactivity and obesity crisis facing today’s youth.

Congratulations to the following grantees:

Nuniwarmiut School Running Club – Mekoryuk, AK
The Nuniwarmiut School Running Club has been in existence since 2010, founded on the principle of trying to get native Cup’ig Eskimo children interested in an aerobic activity. Participants range in ages from 8-16. While the population of the island where the program is located is just 200, it has a rich history of distance running.  Runners would herd reindeer on foot over the expanse of the 35- by 45-mile island. However, the introduction of the all-terrain vehicle has made distance running almost obsolete. The program has focused on running as part of the children’s cultural history as well as helping students develop a “can-do” attitude while also teaching lessons about nutrition and avoiding soda and other fatty foods. Access to running shoes is a challenge as most children in the village run in either rubber boots or hand me down shoes as travel to well-stocked stores can be costly for the residents of the island.

Boys & Girls Club GREAT Strides – Imperial Beach, CA
The two clubhouses of Boys & Girls Clubs of South County (BGCSC) are made up of a diverse group of 200 youths, serving children ages 5 -17, with 48% Hispanic, 18% White, 16% Multiracial, 11% African American, 6% Asian and 1% other.  The GREAT Strides program is utilizing the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation Program Guide to develop a set of lessons.  Each lesson is broken into two segments per week with BGCSC staff creating a map of geographic goals that members will be expected to reach each week. Members are encouraged to run a certain number of laps weekly to meet the mileage goal, and staff tracks their progress. Additionally, members set goals for themselves related to their own personal growth and journal their progress. Participants are also educated on attaining energy balance between energy consumed through food and energy expelled through exercise and living.

Run After School – Goodyear, AZ
The Run After School program runs during each school year, working with 50 children from sixth through twelfth grade.  The program serves a population that is 70% Hispanic.  During the first seven weeks, the group meets three times a week after school. As the season progress, and participants start running greater distances, the program meets on weekends. On certain weekends participants compete in events ranging from 5k to 18 miles. These events get participants ready for the final goal: to complete a full marathon during the month of February. To ensure the students’ safety, the program provides free physical exams, and there is always a coach running with them. The program teaches students how to set goals, maintain an active life style, and keep students busy by running as opposed to having the students on the streets. First-year participants are strongly encouraged to focus on the goal of completing the marathon/run and not the competitive aspects of racing. The program’s director is a graduate of the Students Run LA program, which this program is modeled after. He credits his experience with Students Run LA for helping him graduate with a BA and a Masters Degree in Education. 

Montebello Police Athletic & Activities League (PAAL) – Montebello, CA
The Police Athletic & Activities League (PAAL) Program is in its first year of providing low to no cost programs to community youth. One of the program’s goals is emphasizing the relationship between public safety personnel and the community. The running program is free of charge for participants; it is gender inclusive; and it follows the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation 10-week program. Meetings occur twice a week for at least 10-weeks. The end goal is for participants to take part in a local run. Volunteer police personnel & community members staff the program.  The youth of the community are vastly under-served, as made evident by the overwhelming demand for services and enthusiastic response to the formation of PAAL. In its first year, the program has engaged 240 children and anticipates having 300 by the end of the year. Montebello has a very high Latino/Hispanic population (79.6%) with many families being low income. PAAL is focused on at-risk youth and emphasizes health, safety, gang intervention/prevention, bullying, and life skills training.

Jackson Running Fitness Club—Sacramento, CA
The Running Fitness Club includes elementary students in grades 4-6 in a diverse Title I School (Hispanic 53%, Black 31%, Asian 8%, Middle Eastern 8%). The Running Fitness Club is a structured running program that meets twice a week, for 45-minute sessions, for the duration of the school year. The program prepares children to participate in local 5Ks.  As the club approaches an event, they increase their running sessions to four days a week. Training consists of pacer laps, timed trials, and distance running, while also incorporating yoga, core exercises, Pilates, and nutrition and science lessons. The coordinators of the program are three teachers from the school who want to share their passion for health and fitness their students.  These students highly benefit from the program, coming from a low socio-economic background with limited access to fitness opportunities. Despite varying levels of athletic experience, all students show dedication to the program and take pride in achieving their own personal goals, with goal to promote improvement, not competition. 

Wild Cat Run – Logan, UT
The Wild Cat Run club serves nearly 700 participants that attend Woodruff Elementary School in Logan, UT. The school is a Title I school with a diverse student population.  Students run up to three days a week. Each month, club members set goals for their mile runs, and students are encouraged to improve their mile times.  Students also work on pacing, sprinting activities, and learning about healthy eating habits throughout the year.  Points of discussion also include the food pyramid and how to incorporate nutrition right into a healthy lifestyle.

Patterson Park Public Charter School (PPPCS) Running Club – Baltimore, MD
The 2014-15 school year will mark the 3rd year of the PPPCS Running Club.  The program is gender inclusive and serves all students at the school, grades pre-k through 8th grade.  Eighty-two percent (82%) of the students qualify for free and reduced meals at the Title I school.  The program focuses on participation as well as total miles run per participant.  Each session they focus on an important topic including goal setting, pacing, form, and nutrition. They have partnered with the Community Schools Director to create a nutrition committee to engage their students and families in healthy eating choices. After several of their runs, they host healthy eating seminars with food and recipes included. Parents and other family members are also encouraged to participate, which allows the club to include younger age groups.  The group runs in a park across the street from the school, which provides a range of running routes for every member. The group meets twice a week throughout the fall with a culminating event happening on December 6th to celebrate the progress everyone has made after a season of running. 

PS 124 Yung Wing Running Club – New York, NY
PS 124 is located in the Chinatown neighborhood in Manhattan and serves about 90% Asian and 10% Hispanic/Black/White students. The majority of students in the Yung Wing Running Club are on the free or reduced school lunch program, and they remain at school in afterschool care until 6:00 PM.  The running club provides a structured activity for the children to do outdoors during the afternoon hours. The program focuses on appropriate pacing and building stamina over time. Goal setting is an important element of the program, because most of the students have never run before. Participants are assessed and with their input on how their first runs went, and they are then placed in a group. The groups are dynamic with runners building up their endurance levels.  In the first few sessions, club leaders share information about nutrition and healthy food options. The importance of proper stretching and cooling down is stressed as well.

RAPP Runners – Kingston, NY
The Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) is designed to assist caregivers who have taken on the role of primary caregiver for relative children. Reasons for this include: death of the biological parents, addiction, incarceration, abuse, neglect or any combination of the above circumstances.  The youth served in this program, numbering over 100, have been exposed to unsafe environments, and they are usually dealing with deep grief issues.  Many, if not all, are being raised in homes that are at or below the poverty level, which translates into little to no participation in extracurricular activities and poor diets due to tight food budgets.  Three years ago, the youth and caregivers were exposed to the sport of running through a local club in the area. The RAPP Runners follow the Kids Run the Nation Program Guide. The running program strives to teach important life lessons and concepts, including: goal setting; motivation; commitment to long-term goals; ability to see the light at the end of a long tunnel; providing support for others; knowing when to push oneself and when to stop; and how exercise is beneficial to not only the body but the mind as well. Following regular running sessions, children will participate in several local races fulfilling a commitment to their own personal goals.

Lower School Running Club – Philadelphia, PA
The Lower School Running Club (LSRC) serves children pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade that attend Penn Alexander School (PAS).  PAS is a Philadelphia Title I neighborhood school located in West Philadelphia.  The eight week running program was started to introduce children to running and prepare them to run in a one mile or 5K race held annually the first Sunday in June at the school.  LSRC operates on an eight-week cycle beginning in April and ends one week before the race.  Students age 12 and up are eligible to participate in Students Run Philly program to train for either a half or full marathon.  The LSRC acts as a feeder program and helps introduce children to running.  In 2014, 68 students enrolled and participated in LSRC.  Of the 68 students, 32% were male, 68% female.  45% of the 68 students were of minority decent (African, African American, Asian, Hispanic, or other). Participants come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.  The program teaches children about pacing, healthy choices, and more.  Each week parents of participants receive an educational email about being a healthy runner. 

Tyler Soles – Washington, DC
Tyler Soles is a Tyler Elementary PTA sponsored running and character building program geared towards disadvantaged students who are currently demonstrating behavior and/or academic difficulties. Tyler is a Title 1 school located in South East D.C.  Eighty percent (80%) of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. The program primarily serves students in 4th and 5th grade and meets for one-hour, twice a week, after school.  Using the director’s fitness knowledge coupled with the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation Program Guide, students are provide with information about running, fitness, nutrition, and focus.  The program includes information and consultation about positive interactions, good decision-making, and self-esteem building from a parent who serves the community as a clinical psychologist.  After the teaching component of each session, the coaches run with the students. Tyler Soles is a non-competitive program and students are encouraged to strive for their person best and improve in all areas each week. Tyler Soles is critical to students, because many live in an area where running outside is not safe and fitness is not a high priority amidst the many challenges their families face. 

Rutland County Vermont Running and Walking Programs – Rutland, VT
In 2010, the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation program helped form the curriculum for a Rutland citywide pilot running and fitness program held after school. In the ensuing four years, the program has grown considerably. In 2014, over 4,800 children participated in the program from start to finish, with over 450 children running the Crowley 5K or 10K Road Races. Participants in the program range from grades K-8th, and include all the children at Northeast and Northwest Elementary Schools and Procter Elementary Schools. The program is now hoping to reach more area youth with a 26-week Public Access TV show focused on running fundamentals and the benefits of running. Both Bill Rodgers and Kathrine Switzer have support the program by speaking in the past. Katherine Switzer has spoken twice to students in the program, sharing advice on how to make a positive impact on the world.

Kolb Elementary School Running Program – Bay City, MI
Kolb Elementary is a Title I school that serves approximately 600 students in pre-school through fifth grade. Through diligent fundraising efforts, the school was able to install a quarter-mile track on school property. The track, which was completed in late August 2014, will be used for the school-wide exercise program that will follow the Michigan Physical Education Standards outlined by the State’s Board of Education in 2012.  The running program is intended to help the students with their health and fitness by tracking the amount of miles all of the students accomplish as a whole.  Each student receives a foot pattern with 20 marks on it to be punched anytime they accomplish a lap on the track.  This can be done with the classroom teacher, during physical education class, or during recess time monitored by a volunteer.  Once the card is completely punched, which equals 5 miles, the students receive additional incentives, and the miles are logged as part of the school-wide mileage goal for the year.

KC Track Club Gets Kids Running – Kansas City, MO
This running program is supported by the Kansas City Track Club, an RRCA member club, and is open to boys and girls in elementary and middle schools in the North Kansas City School District. The program serves over 500 students. Students meet most days of the school year to walk or run, with continuous running being the ultimate goal for the children. The program utilizes the lessons outlined in the Kids Run The Nation Program Guide. A physical education teacher who is an active member of the Kansas City Track Club leads the program. In additional to the running program, goal setting, nutrition, and energy balance lessons are covered in the classroom setting.

Hastings YMCA Youth Run Club – Hastings, MN
The YMCA Youth Running Club is for children ages 8-10 years old who attend the local Title 1 School. The program encompasses the YMCA Principals of “Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit” along with utilizing the lessons in the Kids Run the Nation Program Guide. In order to teach these principals, participants track their progress, learn about goal setting, keep a running log, complete daily journal entries, and learn about competition and sportsmanship.  The goal of the program is to double the number of participants from 50 to over 100.

Catalayah Running Club – Claremore, OK
The Catalayah Running Club began two years ago at Catalayah Elementary School, a Title I school with population of 58% Caucasian, 24% American Indian, 9% Hispanic, 9% Asian/Black/Multiracial.  Through a previous grant, the school was able to install a small running track on their playground. All 400 students in the school, from kindergarten through 5th grade, can participate in the running program. Students voluntarily run at recess with teachers monitoring.  Each student keeps a log of their laps, and once a student has 50 laps (5 miles) they earn a token. Mileage charts are kept in each student’s classroom. Once a student reaches 5 tokens, (25 miles) they receive a medal at the Friday morning assembly. An afterschool running program is also offered to all students in 2nd through 5th grade. To keep the program running smoothly, six to eight certified elementary school teachers volunteer after school to monitor the running club. The program’s success has spurred other elementary schools in the area to initiate a running club.

Van Wert Elementary Roadrunners – Van Wert, OH
The Van Wert Elementary Roadrunners believe in the philosophy that “when you start with fun, it can last a lifetime.” The purpose of Roadrunners is to not only to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles, but also provide children in grades 3-6 the opportunity to improve running knowledge and participate in running events. Van Wert is a rural community in Northwest Ohio and the county’s unemployment rate has hovered at 8% over the last several years.  Only 13% of the population is college educated and the elementary school consists of 800 students in grades 1-5.  Sixty-one percent (61%) of the students are on free or reduced lunches.  Obesity rates at the school have fallen over the last few years but remain above the national average at 38%, and 35% of students in grades 3-5 do not meet the standards for the healthy fitness zone in BMI on the Fitnessgram test. Roadrunners are working to combat these trends. The program meets two times per week for 90-minute sessions after school for 10-weeks.  The running program culminates with a 1 Mile Turkey Trot in November.

Open Door Youth Services – New Albany, IN
Open Door Youth Services is a shelter a shelter for troubled children and youth, which is an accredited member of Indiana Youth Services Association, a member of IARCCA, An Association of Children and Family Services, and a member of the Children’s Coalition of Indiana. Their programs reach as many as 700 children a year in Southern Indiana. The shelter believes physical activity and fitness are key components to a fulfilling lifestyle. The children that live in the shelter range in age from 3rd to 12th graders.  The shelter will be implementing their running program to provide daily physical activity for their residents. Led by volunteers from the shelter staff, the running program will take children to parks, along the riverfront, and utilize the shelter’s track for running.

Team Kids Café – Lubbock, TX
Kids Café is an afterschool-feeding program provided the South Plains Food Bank.  It is designed to provide children from low-income families a healthy and nutritious meal and a safe place to go after school. Team Kids Café is their afterschool running program designed to encourage healthy lifestyles through diet and exercise and focuses on the benefits of running.  The program serves a diverse population of 200 area children using a curriculum that presents running as a fun activity. The program emphasizes the importance of combining a healthy diet and physical activity as the critical steps to fight childhood obesity in the South Plains of Texas. The six-week running program, which follows the Kids Run, the Nation Program Guide, begins the first week of March and culminates with the opportunity for the children to participate in the Kids Café Fun Run held in mid-April. Volunteer coaches from the local RRCA running club meet a minimum of two days per week for at least one hour at all of the Kids Cafe locations.

Kids Run the Nation – Acworth, GA
The Kids Run the Nation - Acworth program follows the lessons outlined in the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation Program Guide. The running program meets three days a week, and serves over 50 children from 3rd to 12th grade.  The majority of the students in the program have special needs and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). The program is an eight-week, running program that will help youth develop a lifelong love of running and a healthy lifestyle. The goal of the program is make running fun with students learning good form and pacing while being encouraged to run laps outside of class time. Students will be provided with incentives during the course of the program.

Bridgeton Elementary Running Club – New Bern, NC
Bridgeton Elementary School is a Title I School with 65% of students eligible for free and reduced lunches.  The Bridgeton Elementary Running Club started last year with over 55 students participating.  The program consists of 60-minute runs held two days per week after school.  The program is supervised by four volunteer teachers and is open to any 4th or 5th grade student. The program ends with a 5K run in December.  Parents and siblings are also invited to participate.  A total of 156 individuals associated with the club ran or walked the 5K last year.

Americana Youth Program – Louisville KY
The Americana Community Center will establish a spring running program to be included as an enrichment activity for their long-standing youth program that provide a range of after school activities for youth to enhance their skills, build self-esteem and develop healthy habits. The program serves a diverse population of low-income youth both foreign and domestically born (22% African American, 59% Hispanic, 14% White, 5% Other). The running program will be a 12-week program leading up to a 5k race to be held the morning of 25th Annual Americana World Festival. The program will follow the lessons in the Kids Run the Nation Program Guide.

YMCA’s Run This Town – Lexington, KY
The YMCA’s Run This Town program is held each spring and fall and meets three days per week for four hours total.  The program has a simple running plan that allows youth ages 10-18 who have never run before to comfortably progress each week with a goal of running their first 10K. The children are matched with volunteers who serve as running mentors. The program provides nutritional information through their collaboration with the Fayette County Health Department and Saint Joseph HealthCare/KentuckyOne Health.  After each session, the children enjoy a healthy snack provided by volunteers. The majority of the 50 children in the program are from low-income families and represent a diverse population.

NWBRRC Youth Running Program – Parkland, FL
The North West Broward Road Runners Club’s (NWBRRC) Youth Running Program motivates 160 beginning and advanced youth runners interested in learning and improving their fitness. This structured youth running program focuses on warm up, proper stretching, breathing, form, pacing and cool down, proper nutrition. The program also focuses on endurance, speed training, and helps participants enhance running skills for sports such as baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, soccer and other athletics. The program provides for 60 minutes of running followed by 15 minutes of education discussion led by the program coach during an 8-week period. The program prepares the children to be ready to successfully run the Tamarac Turkey Trot 5K.

Sabal Elementary Morning Mile – Melbourne, FL
The Morning Mile Program takes place every morning, weather permitting, from 7:30-7:50 AM.  All students from Sabal Elementary, a Title I School, are invited to join the program. There are 229 kindergarten through 6th graders who participate. Three students from the emotional and behavioral difficulties unit at the school have been able to join the club and successfully participate. Starting at 7:30, all club members may walk or run the quarter mile track.  Once a student completes a full lap they receives a straw. At the end of the 20-minute running period, the students check in with students from the National Honor Society or parent volunteers with the number of straws they received for the day.  Program leaders keep track of laps each week and after completion of five miles, students receive a token for their efforts.  Last year, several students completed as many as 200 miles.  This year the program’s goal is to see 100 students hitting the 100-mile mark.

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