Enter The We Run This City Youth Marathon Program (WRTC), a program of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. This 12 - 22 week running program that trains kids to run various distances as part of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon each May. WRTC can step in and help close the physical fitness gap, particularly in poorly funded communities. To learn about the WRTC program, we spoke with Carla Turner, Sustainability Director, about what’s coming up for the 2017 season.
YMCA: Looking towards 2017, how many participants do you expect to have?
Ms. Turner: We hope to reach 40 schools and get more than 650 students involved in the program.
YMCA: We know the benefits running has on the physical body, but are there also mental benefits to Cleveland youth runners?
Ms. Turner: Absolutely. At the beginning of the program students have to set a goal to eat properly and complete a certain amount of mileage leading up to race day on May 21st. Most of our students are not athletic so running a mile without stopping is a big deal. Once the students cross the finish line there is a sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment carries over to the classroom and beyond. To further illustrate this benefit, our team is currently working on metrics to show how their program improved not only physical well-being, but other positive factors like increased attendance at school.
YMCA: What’s involved in operating a program like We Run This City?
Ms. Turner: It takes a lot to run a program like this, both in volunteers and donations. WRTC is currently hosting a fundraising campaign for their 2017 season called “Give a kid a shoe. Give a kid a promise.” The goal is to raise the $15,000 needed to supply all runners with the proper running shoes they need for their training. The program also needs volunteers to help as assistant coaches, team managers and with race day efforts. They even need runners, pacers and sweepers to stay on the roads with the kids.
YMCA: How can someone get involved?
Ms. Turner: I encourage anyone who is interested in helping out to contact me at (216) 263-6298 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also donate to our “Give a kid a shoe, give a kid a promise” fundraiser, please check out the link here.