Site Spotlight: Sally Bojorquez – Young Runners

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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?
Young Runners

What is the name of your site? Where are you located?
PS 159 – Bronx, NY

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
Running has been a huge part of my life since high school. I believe that so many life lessons are taught through running: setting and achieving goals, being part of a team, and the importance of hard work and perseverance, all lessons which can be applied to all aspects of life. When I first came to PS 159, we did not have any sports teams. I believed that having a running team would be a great way to encourage students to be more active and also to teach those essential life lessons at the same time. We began with “Girls on the Run” just for 3rd grade girls. The following year, we opened it up to 3rd-5th grade girls. During that time, the boys kept asking us why there wasn’t a program for them. After researching other programs, it was obvious that NYRR Young Runners was the perfect match for our school, especially as all students in grades 3-5 can participate. We currently practice twice a week before school and participate in 3 races a season.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
Our students are extremely enthusiastic about the program! They show up at 7am before school ready to run (Some parents have told me that it easier to wake their children up on Young Runners days than other days even though it is an hour earlier) and frequently come to school proudly wearing all of their Young Runners gear. The students enjoy all the games provided by NYRR, especially the centipede run, relays, and toe tag. Although some of the students say they like the practices the best, many of the students say that their favorite part is the races. Students love the variety of the races as well- from cross country races in Van Cortland, to road races in Washington Heights, Central Park, Times Square, and the Youth Jamborees at the Armory and Randall’s Island.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
“He needs to be on Young Runners again. He is a different student in the classroom when he does Young Runners.” -4th grade teacher, explaining how her student is more focused and has a better attitude when he participates in Young Runners

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
Children need to be active at least 60 minutes per day. I really think that many of our children are not moving enough, which comes with various negative consequences. Having Young Runners practice gets the students moving in the morning a couple times a week. Some students have told me that they now go home and ask their parents to run with them or take them to the park. Instilling healthy life habits in our students is the number one goal of Young Runners. When students start exercising, eating healthy and sleeping right at an early age, those habits are more likely to carry on through adulthood.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I ran on a high school and college team. I honestly began running in high school, because I knew I wouldn’t make any other team. (I was never very coordinated!) My coaches in high school and college were incredible and instilled a love of the sport in me. I loved the feeling of being a part of a team and my teammates were always extremely supportive. As I became more and more competitive and saw my times improving, I realized how hard work and commitment pays off and saw the results. This active lifestyle has definitely continued for me. I love the thrill of training for and running marathons, and have also loved competing in triathlons as well.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
I cannot say I have one favorite place to run. I love running in Central Park, because there is always such a positive energy in the park, so many people always enjoying the park and being active. I love the tranquility of Van Cortland Park though as well. It all depends on how I am feeling that day.

Why did you choose to run the TCS New York City Marathon and what number marathon is this for you?
I choose to run the NYC Marathon because it is such a great opportunity to run for my school and for the Young Runners program. My principal, who also coaches, is running too, which makes it special to be running for a common goal. The enthusiasm of the students on our team keeps me motivated and I am excited to train, knowing they are training for their own little races. I ran the NYC in 2013 as well, but running for my school’s Young Runners program makes it even more special. It will be my 9th marathon.

Tell us a little more about yourself
PS 159 benefits greatly from the Young Runners program! Thank you for all your support Team for Kids runners!

In addition to this NYRR Youth Program site spotlight, NY1 created an inspiring video and informative article on PS 159 related to the Times Square Kids Run that took place during the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half. View the article and video here – http://www.ny1.com/nyc/bronx/news/2015/03/10/bronx-s-ps-159-track-team-to-run-in-times-square-nyrr-race.html!

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