Site Spotlight – Colleen Maresca – Young Runners

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In which program is your site enrolled?
Young Runners

What is the name of your site? Where are you located?
PS 59 – The Beekman Hill International School – New York, NY

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
As a child, athletics shaped me into the person I am today. I was involved in sports throughout my whole school career including college then became a distance runner when I graduated. Those opportunities kept me focused and motivated me on and off the “field.” I wanted to be able to give the students in my school the same opportunities that were presented to me as a child. Since we didn’t have any team sports, I started a running club about 6 years ago. I then found out about the programs NYRR had to offer and couldn’t wait to recruit teachers who were also passionate about running and willing to assist in the implementation of the Young Runner’s program. Therefore, we started the program 3 years ago and had an overwhelming response from the school community. With more than 50 kids trying out each year we manage to take between 25-30 kids who will truly embrace and take ownership of what the Young Runner’s program is all about. We practice twice a week, running on either our rooftop or in the halls and stairwells and compete in 3-6 races a year. The kids, families and school community are excited and passionate about our team, the PS59 Striders. They inspire others to be healthy and to work hard (both in physical activity and in the classroom) despite any challenges they may face along the way. I am proud to be able to coach these kids and be part of this amazing program.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
Our kids are spunky and excited every day at practice regardless of what we ask them to do. We have now incorporated a mini-meditation at the end of every practice so that kids can reflect of their day and prepare their minds for what is to come. Beyond that their favorite component of the program is racing, from Central Park to Washington Heights and anywhere in between. They’ve learned that they can accomplish anything if the work hard and persist.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
“The best part is that I’m not a runner and now I’ve been inspired by my own child to run. And it’s something we can share together.” – Parent

“Thank you again to the coaches for taking their time during the week and on the weekends for teaching our kids how to run and other things.” – Parent

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
I believe the biggest benefits of my program are that the kids are learning life-long lessons that they will carry with them throughout their lives. They are learning that they don’t have to be the fastest or smartest but as long as they work hard they can accomplish the goals they set for themselves. I feel that this is preparing them to be contributing members of our society and positive role models for other kids and for adults!

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
My relationship with running began after finishing my college career as a Division 1 lacrosse player. I had been used to structured practices and coaches telling me what to do. I knew that I now needed to start setting goals for myself. So I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon and I never looked back. I just ran the NYC 1/2 Marathon in March which was my 10th half and have run 2 full marathons among many other shorter distance races. I will be taking on the streets of NYC once again this November in the 2015 NYC marathon! Running has become my therapy; it gives me peace of mind and a strong sense of self.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
In Windham, NY. I spend a lot of winter weekends skiing and running in the Catskills. I love to go out early in the morning and run to the ski mountain before anyone is out and awake to start my day, then change and strap on my ski boots and hit the slopes!

Were you ever a TFK member, if so what did you like best about the program?
I have been a TFK member twice so far, for the 2013 Chicago Marathon and for the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half. The structure of the training program keeps me focused and motivated and the coaches are so supportive and positive!

Why did you choose to run the TCS New York City Marathon and what number marathon is this for you?
As I was watching the 2014 Marathon from the streets of my neighborhood (Greenpoint) with my best friend, who is also a runner, I became emotional and inspired to run a full marathon again. To be in your own city surrounded by people that are there just for you is so inspiring! This will be my 3rd marathon!

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am an elementary school counselor at PS59 in midtown Manhattan. I have been working here for over 8 years now and continue to learn and grow as an educator and person. I also love to ski, spend time boating, and relaxing at the beach with family and friends. I also love to entertain and am looking forward for some warmer weather so I can throw my first party of the season!

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