Your ongoing support has sent public school kids over the moon! To date, over 30,000 kids have participated in school-based running programs through the ING Run For Something Better (IRFSB). Those kids are now on the road to healthier, happier lifestyles. Together, they’ve logged nearly 800,000 miles — that’s the distance to the moon and back, twice!
Thanks to the support of friends like you, Atlanta Public Schools and City Schools of Decatur brought 1,500 kids into the IRFSB program, and each of those kids worked to complete a progressive half-marathon leading up to the 2008 ING Georgia Marathon on March 30. After logging the equivalent of 12 miles, 700 kids trekked into the city on an unusually cold March day to complete their final 1.2 miles, crossing the finish line and earning medals alongside the 11,000 other marathon participants.
Iesha Thomas and Santrice Winfrey of Sutton Middle School said they were running “to support their school and be healthy.” The hardest part? “It’s too cold!”
Before the race, more than 100 teachers, administrators and community leaders attended an awards luncheon honoring schools and coaches, and several schools were recognized for their above-and-beyond participation. Coaches Nadine O’Connor and Leon Thompson of Jean Childs Young Middle School in Atlanta received the award for Outstanding Organization and Enthusiasm.
O’Connor said that IRFSB even got some of their “bleacher students” — kids who typically do everything they can to get out of P.E. — excited about running. Why? “Because they found something they wanted to do for themselves. They wanted to say they had run a half-marathon. They wanted to prove they could do it,” O’Connor explained. In fact, one of those bleacher students was a 290-pound eighth-grader. After three months of training, he was down to 275, excited about running, and eager to keep losing weight.
“At first, a lot of kids couldn’t even complete a single lap running around the track,” added Thompson. “It was really rewarding to see how much they improved over the course of the program.”
About 100 students from Jean Childs Young Middle ran the final mile on the ING Georgia Marathon race course. “They absolutely loved it!” added Young’s principal, Thomas Kenner. “It was great to see the pride of accomplishment on their faces. We look forward to participating again next year.”
Katherine Switzer — a former elite athlete, ING New York City Marathon winner and Emmy-winning sports commentator — believes it’s that sense of accomplishment that is at the heart of this program. “This is a tremendous program, but it’s not just about fighting obesity. These kids are learning how to build toward something important. Every day, every step they run is an achievement. The self esteem that children build through programs like this is like armor against the bad stuff that’s out there.”