INDIANAPOLIS – The USA Track & Field Foundation has recently completed highly successful Run With US! (RWUS!) programs in Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA, raising the total number of completed programs to five since the initial pilot was launched in Los Angeles in February 2012. Two additional programs were run in Alamosa, Colorado this past spring and summer.
RWUS! utilizes a carefully-selected corps of Olympians and aspiring Olympic track & field athletes that deploy a targeted curriculum to youth populations, both virtually and intimately, in targeted communities and schools with lessons of fitness, nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, and fueling life ambitions.
Austin presented the Foundation with a unique opportunity to positively impact a very special population of kids residing at Helping Hand Home for Children (HHH), a nurturing and therapeutic home for children who have suffered severe abuse and neglect.
“This was perhaps the most special Run With US! program so far,” said Jack Wickens, Board Director for the USATF Foundation. “We were thrilled to have 10 professional runners from the Austin area, including two Olympic stars (Leo Manzano, Bianca Knight), act as program leaders and inspiring mentors to the precious children at Helping Hand Home.”
Austin’s program was spearheaded by Ashley Wright and Mark Sutton (Ashley’s father), both Foundation Directors and Austin residents, who lend their support to HHH on a year-round basis.
“It was such a pleasure working with local elite athletes and HealthTeacher to introduce track & field to the kids at Helping Hand Home, said Ashley. “Over the course of six weeks, we saw kids having fun exercising and falling in love with the sport. Whether running, jumping or throwing, each participant significantly improved and learned something new.”
The San Francisco program was held at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School in conjunction with the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC) of San Francisco. Elite runners JT Sullivan and Kaitlin Gregg (SNBC program coordinator) led the five session after-school program, highlighted by Olympian Day with Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and Alysia Montano lending their considerable star power and charisma to inspire and motivate the children. Additional programs at other SNBC after-school centers are in the planning stage.
The USATF Foundation’s recent partnership with Health Teacher, an online health education resource that’s used in all 50 states, 14 foreign countries, by over 20,000 users (classroom & physical education teachers, health educators, school nurses, community organizers and parents), will further enable the Foundation to impact America’s youth on a much greater scale.