Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inspiring Kids to Run

Not too long ago a good running and blogging friend of mine, Lisa Watts, told me about a really cool program—GO FAR—that helps kids train for and run their first 5K. As we talked, I discovered that the program was developed by a friend of hers—Robin Lindsay. I met Robin when she joined my running group for one of our Saturday morning long runs. I got to know her a little better when we both volunteered to help stuff envelops for a fundraiser for the upcoming NC Marathon. Her story is so inspirational that I asked her to share it with you, the readers of RunnerDude's Blog. Read on to find out how this truly unique and important program—GO FAR—came to be.

I’m amazed how life events and unplanned occurrences can sharply change the path of our lives. In 2003 I was a veteran Physician Assistant practicing medicine in a small adult clinic, seeing patients with primarily chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis. I was tired of non-compliant patients and watching my patients deteriorate to the point of kidney failure and amputation of limbs from poor diabetes control, and ongoing joint and back pain from being obese and inactive.

I left the small clinic to work in a local university, excited to be working with energetic, healthy young adults. Instead, what I found in my first year as health director at the university was 19- and 20-year-olds struggling with similar problems of inactivity, poor eating habits and extra weight. On evaluation, found their blood pressures were high and their blood sugars were slightly elevated. They complained of many of the same things that the older patients I once evaluated.

About this time, I was training for my first marathon with Team in Training, in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I love their method of training: every week you set and reach a new goal with the support of coaches. Somewhere in the middle of that training I had a “shower moment”: that instant when, as you’re shampooing, you come up with an awesome idea. I realized I could train impressionable elementary age kids in a similar way, teaching them to set goals and reach them, train them in the basics of how to complete a 5K road race and include nutrition training, character building and other aspects of training. And so GO FAR (Go Out For A Run) was born.

GO FAR is a 10-week curricul
um taught by teachers or parents who volunteer a few afternoons a week. Each week the children walk/run, increasing their running or speed walking time in each of the 10 weeks until the finale, a 5k run/walk. They also learn about the importance of good character, goal setting and other aspects of physical fitness.
Oh yeah, back to life changes. I quit my PA job to be a full-time volunteer with GO FAR and to help get more children active and to stay healthy. The program has grown from 16 kids in 2003 from one school to more than 1,000 children in 25 schools in 3 states. I want to see the program spread still farther. Once children train in the GO FAR program and participate in their first 5k, they generally are hooked. —Robin Lindsay

Want to start a GO FAR running club in your school, camp, club, or church? Visit Robin's Website at http://www.gofarclub.org/ for more information.

11 comments:

Natalie Friton said...

Congrats to Robin for making such an awesome difference in children's lives. I couldn't agree more how gratifying it is to see young children making healthy choices and learning how that can shape their lives. I volunteer with a very similar program that started in 1996. Girls on the Run is the program I'm involved in, but no matter the program, it's just great to see those who 'can' empowering those who still have yet to try.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Natalie! I'm with ya. Anything that gets kids active is wonderful and never more important than with today's kids. What I like about GO FAR is that it's for both boys and girls.

Janice {Run Far} said...

Wow... that is so inspiring. I would love more then anything to be involved in something like that. How rewarding that must be. My 8 year old has talked about wanting to run, I am wanting to find a 5k and train her for it. She has back problems so we will see how that goes. Thanks for sharing.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Janice! Be sure to check out the GO FAR website. Maybe you and some other moms can get a group going in your town or convince your school to start the program. Keep me posted on your daughter's 5K progress! I ran a cummulative marathon with my daughter when she was about 9. We had to walk/run a cummulative of 25 miles prior to the date of a local half marathon. On the day of the race, all the kids/parents who participated in the cummulative full marathon got to run their last 1.2 miles and recieve their medals after crossing the finish line. I sure did enjoy that time with my daughter.

Running Through Life said...

It is very nice to see someone so committed to children. I can't think of a better place to start educating people but at a young age to give them the benefit of knowledge for a lifetime of healthy habits.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Running Through Life! I agree whole-heartedly. Kind of like a foregin language....it's a whole lot easier learning it as a youngin than as an adult. LOL!

Lora said...

Well, that's just great. Thanks for sharing.

M2Marathon said...

What a great program! That is one of the most important side effects of my husband and I running: our kids learn frist-hand the importance of physical activity, healty living, and just how fun it can be to set, train and reach goals. They already waht to be runners! This program would be a great entry in a couple of years...I've got it bookmarked in my brain. Thanks for sharing!

M2Marathon said...

Clearly, my typing abilities leave something to be desired...hopefully the kids don't learn that! :-) Forgive my previous typos...

RunnerDude said...

Hey M2Marathon! Being a good role model for your kids is the best way for them to have healthy habits as second nature. Kudos to you and your husband. My healthy eating is starting to rub off on my kids. I still have to get on them sometimes for too much junk but then I'll hear one of them telling a friend not to eat something because it's bad for them. Does a Dad's heart good to see something you've tried to instill in them actually stuck. LOL!

Chic Runner said...

congrats on such a great program! :) I will look into it in my town as well! :) Thanks again runner dude!