Marathon Program Keeps Cleveland Students Running
The "We Run This City” Youth Marathon program, designed to encourage healthy habits and exercise in Cleveland’s young people, was launched in 2006 with 81 middle-school runners.
It has grown steadily each year since, and in 2010, over 600 Cleveland school students took part, running in the Rite Aid Marathon after months of training.
Many of the students say they would never have gotten involved in the race if not for the program.
“This program is so much more than just running," says program director Tara Taylor. "It is about the triumph of the human spirit – to do something that you can’t believe you can do but want to do. We hope after the race is over, their race is still being run for years to come.”
A Marathon Program student does not have to be an athlete to become a participant in this program, says Taylor. The goal for each student is completion rather than competition.
In addition, students do not pay to participate. The program is underwritten through contributions from The Medical Mutual Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, and the St. Luke’s Foundation, and is a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, Steps to a Healthier Cleveland, the Cleveland Metro
politan School District and The
Rite Aid Marathon.
Facts and Statistics
- At the start of the 2008 program, more than a third of students said their neighborhoods weren't safe for outdoor physical activity.
- A quarter of students who trained to run the 10K in 2008 started the program as overweight—a statistic well above the national average for both boys and girls.
- Students identified the fact that they “like to run” as the number one reason that they participated in the program in 2008.
- In 2009 runners indicated that the best parts of participating in the Marathon Program were “accomplishing goals”, “being a part of a team,” and “getting in shape”, as opposed to receiving incentives such as shoes. These results suggest that the program achieved its goal of promoting self confidence and a sense of empowerment.
- In 2009 runners’ perceptions of their own body image before and after the program was important in tracking changes in self-esteem. Post-test results indicate that over 90% of participants reported that they either felt better (72%) or the same (21%) about their bodies after completing the program.
- Participants reported a significant increase in support for healthy behaviors from both their peers and their family members.
The Marathon Program is a 14-week program. Teams begin forming in December. For more information, visit the Marathon page web section.