Site Spotlight: Christina Van Dorf – Mighty Milers

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Learn more about our NYRR Youth Programs! Over the next few months we will be sharing profiles on teachers from across the country who work first-hand with the NYRR Youth Programs that Team for Kids’ fundraising efforts support. These select individuals are not just dedicated coaches and coordinators, but also runners who will be joining our 2015 TCS New York City Marathon class and 50,000 other runners this November. Read their stories on our blog under the Site Spotlight category for insight into the NYRR Youth Programs and to hear inspirational quotes from students and parents.

In which program is your site enrolled?
Mighty Milers!

Where are you located?
Arlington, TX

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth Program at your site and how has it been implemented?
I started a run club during our PE time at our school about 2 years ago but was struggling to find the money to offer incentives and it was difficult for me to manage inputting mileage and figuring totals/awards in the excel program I used. The NYRR program was a perfect fit for us and has not only encouraged our students to run more but convinced me to do the same as I am training to run the 2015 TCS New York City marathon. The students are excited to be able to go online and see their progress towards their goal and to see the mileage I have been logging as well. We are so thankful for the support of NYRR Team for Kids runners!

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
Our students are very motivated by setting and achieving their goals and enjoy the healthy competition among each other and across grade levels. They like being able to check their progress online and they LOVE the incentives that come in the mail and knowing they come all the way from NYC! It makes them feel like a part of something bigger and connect with kids across the nation.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
“I can’t believe how much my kid loves to run! He comes home every Wednesday telling me how much he ran and now he wants to sign up to run 5k’s. Looks like I will have to get back in shape and start running with him! Thanks for bringing this program to our school.” 2nd Grade Parent

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
Kids across the nation are struggling to stay fit and when all of us PE teachers administer the FitnessGram test it is clear where they have the most difficult time meeting the Healthy Fitness Zone standards and that is Aerobic Capacity. Therefore I felt it was important to face this issue head on and see if I could change that in my students. I am proud to say that after implementing our run program and being able to be a part of NYRR Mighty Milers, our school performs above and beyond on the running portion of their FitnessGram test. They have also developed a love of running and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. But the best thing I get to see is when they start signing up with their parents, siblings, and even grandparents to run races. This run program has not only impacted our students but their families as well and that is very exciting to me!

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I remember starting to run in elementary school because my PE teacher was very encouraging and made it fun. Then in middle school I went out for cross country and had a coach that believed in me as well and helped me to learn how to really push myself. I continued to run in high school to stay in shape for my other sports. It’s interesting that now I teach and coach at all those levels how I get the opportunity to positively impact kids in the same way and hopefully help instill in them a life long love of running.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
We don’t have a lot of beautiful scenic places to run near my home and with having two young boys and working full time I have to run at 5:00 a.m. or earlier. So I have really come to enjoy running along what I know is usually busy city streets during the day but are quite and still in the early am. It’s a peaceful way to start my day.

Why did you choose to run the TCS New York City Marathon and what number marathon is this for you?
This will be my FIRST Marathon and I am so excited! I chose to do this because I felt like it would be a great inspiration for my students. I have scoliosis and don’t usually tell anyone or make it a big deal but one of the other teachers at my school encouraged me to share my xray with the students and parents on social media so they could be inspired to not let their shortcomings hold them back from running or doing whatever else that may seem impossible. Lastly, I could not do this without the help of my family and friends like Ralph Parks with New Balance who I am forever grateful for his encouragement and support.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I married my high school sweetheart, have two crazy boys ages 6 and 3. I teach 1st-12th grade PE and coach middle school basketball and track. I have the joy of serving as the NFL Play 60 FitnessGram Dallas Cowboys Champion where I mentor other local PE teachers. And I am very passionate about educating and encouraging today’s youth on the importance of taking charge of their health and fitness so they can enjoy a long, quality life!

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