Site Spotlight: Christy Emmond – Young Runners

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What program and site did you visit?
I ran with Young Runners Track Team at Global Technology Preparatory Middle School in East Harlem.

What was your motivation to visit a site?
I’m the music teacher at Global Tech and I really wanted to be able to make a few Young Runners practices this year.  I was very open with my students about my training for the NYC Marathon (my first marathon ever!). My students – especially the Young Runners – were so interested by the idea of running a race with a goal of finishing instead of winning.  I really got to talk with them about what it was like to decide to do something that I wasn’t capable of doing when I signed up, and show them how to set a goal and accomplish it with a crazy amount of work.  I also love getting to know my students outside of my classroom and to see their other interests and strengths.

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Site Spotlight: Bonnie Rodgers

In which program is your site enrolled?
Mighty Milers

Where are you located?
Crestview Elementary – Carlisle, PA

What is your role with the program?
Site Coordinator and Physical Education and Health Teacher

What was your motivation to lead/participate in a NYRR Youth Program at your site and how has it been implemented?
I have done many of my own running programs over the years, some of which involved only girls called Go Girls Go and Sole Sisters and wanted to do a program for all of the students. As a runner myself I see the benefits myself of running on a regular basis. Last year I did the Mighty Milers during recesses only so it was hard for the students to earn enough miles for t-shirts and medals as I wasn’t always available during their recess time. This year I offered an after-school program and had so many kids sign up that I had to limit it to 65 and put the others on a waiting list. This was because in the winter the gym is being used by an after school care program and the only space available was the hallways to run so it would have been hard to accommodate any more students.

How have your students responded to the program and what are their favorite component?
The students can’t wait until Tuesdays for Mighty Milers. Some have begged me to have it more times per week. One asked if I could skip my lunch time and come out to punch their mileage cards. (I have been known to do that many times.) They love running with friends and teachers, they tell me it is making them ready to play on their other sports’ teams, they say that running is fun and keeps their hearts and lungs healthy.

Share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
My favorite quote was from one of my very competitive, athletic girls. I asked the kids what they had learned from Mighty Milers and she said, “You don’t have to always be first!”

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance them?
The biggest benefit is that the kids are MOVING and HAVING FUN!! As the obesity rate keeps rising in the U.S. it is great to have a free program that kids literally come running to sign up for. They are realizing as young as first grade that this is their body and they need to take care of it. A quote I use is, “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
As a high school athlete and then a Division 1 college athlete I always liked to run when the coach would make us but track or cross country was never the sport I chose. When I gained the freshman 15 as a college freshman and my grandma told me that I was looking a little larger I knew that running was the way to go. (Not to mention that she was the one that sent me all of the care packages with home-made cookies.) So began the weight loss, I looked better, I did some 5Ks and placed in my age group and running became my passion. It is still my passion and constant in life. I ran through both my pregnancies with dr. permission of course. Funny that I taught right up to my due date with both of my children. Former students of mine have said they remember us jogging to the practice field Tuesday afternoon and then Wednesday morning the principal announced that Mrs. Rodgers had a healthy little girl Tuesday evening. Of course, I had jogging strollers so that my kids could accompany me on my runs which was awesome. Now they are 14 and 11 and I do a program at my 11 year old’s school called Sole Sisters-just for girls and when we do the final run my older daughter comes to pace my younger one and so inspiring to see them running together stride for stride. If I have a stressful day, running is my way out. As a teacher for 25 years, my students see me running in class and this inspires them to like it also!!

What would you tell donors who are considering supporting Team for Kids runner to fund NYRR Youth Programs?
Mighty Milers has been an inspiring program for my students. They love to run with their teachers and friends and enjoy the various incentives which would not be possible without Team for Kids. They are becoming healthy and want to do more running and more exercising!

Tell us a little more about yourself.
I have been an elementary physical education and health teacher in Carlisle Area School District in Carlisle PA for 25 years. I am married and have 2 daughters that are 11 and 14. I love to run especially with my family and my dog. I also play competitive softball and enjoy watching my daughters play many sports.

Site Spotlight: M.S. 577 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Heather Darling-Cortes, Young Runners Head Coach at M.S. 577, is dedicated to helping youth develop healthy habits. She shared with us how Young Runners is building a healthy culture at the school. “Young Runners and Mighty Milers are incredibly important programs for our kids. These programs bring students together for positive experiences in addition to rewarding efforts of the students and teaching them the importance of goal setting and perseverance.”

Site Spotlight: Eric Hsu – Young Runners

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In which program is your site enrolled?
Young Runners – PS 163Q – Flushing, NY

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
I had a great experience with my elementary school track team and I wanted my son to have a similar experience. His school did not have a team so I started the NYRR Young Runners program at his school. It is such an honor to be able to positively influence our youth.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
To give you an idea of how popular the program is, there are more students in the school who want to be part of Young Runners than we could accept. Those who are on the team like the pod championships, which take place yearlong amongst the 6 smaller teams that they are divided into. For practices, we go to Kissena Park and usually run either a 100 meter dash, 400 meter lap, 1 mile challenge, or distance run. The students enjoy going to the park, but they also have a blast playing games in the gym.

Can you share a story of how your kids, or one student in particular, have been transformed or impacted by your program?
A year ago, there was a fourth grade girl who ran in the middle of the pack. With practice and determination, she distinguished herself as the fastest fifth grader this year. She even received a medal for Top Ten Finisher for the 5th and 6th grade division for her performance at the 2015 Young Runners Championship 5k race.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
When I asked a student what her goal for the season was, the student said, “I run because other students say I am fat.” She used that as motivation, and she gave her best effort every time. She didn’t let the harsh words of other students get her down, and she is not only a beautiful runner, but a determined individual in the classroom and with her fitness.

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
It allows kids to get exercise in a team setting to motivate each other and make it fun. Exercise is important for health and academics, but the program also promotes good teamwork and effort for running and other things in life.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I ran since I was in elementary school. My elementary school had a great gym teacher who held track practice on the weekends. I went to run on my high school team. When I was in the US Navy, I ran races that the base had. After the military, I continued running in NYRR races. That is when I found out about the opportunity to start the Young Runners program at my son’s school. Since starting the program, the students have provided me with motivation each and every day, and they all inspired me to complete the 2014 TCS New York City marathon.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is in Kissena Park. I live right next to this park, and the scenery is beautiful with many trails throughout. There are also many people who use this park for running and other exercise activities which provides motivation for me.

Were you ever a TFK member, if so what did you like best about the program?
Yes. I was a TFK member for the 2015 Queens 10K. I liked the fact that I am helping raise funds for a NYRR youth program that I am directly involved with as a coach. I know this fundraiser money is all well spent because I see the programs firsthand. I also love to wear the TFK singlet and run amongst other TFK members and hear all the cheering I get for being a TFK member.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I love to run, and I love sharing this love with others, especially the kids whom I am so lucky to coach. I give my time to Young Runners, but I get so much in return.

Site Spotlight: Meredith Smith – Young Runners

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Learn more about our NYRR Youth Programs! We are 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 on 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?
X551 Bronx Academy of Letters Bronx, NY

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
I wanted my kids to be involved in a program that supports their health and academic needs with goal setting.

My students are now able to understand why healthy eating and exercise affects their focus in school.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
My kids look forward to practice twice a week. I wish that we were able to give them more running time to improve their stamina. Their favorite part is creating their own team t-shirts and competing in races both inside and outside of the Bronx.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
Running a mile was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I may have finished last, but my goal was to finish and I reached my goal.

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
The biggest benefit of this program on my students is that it brings both my middle school and high school students together. They set and track their goals.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
My relationship with running began at age 2 when I started playing soccer. I ran winter track in high school and fell in love with long distance training. Setting and accomplishing goals is something that has become part of my daily routine.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is in my new home in Queens. I love exploring the streets and not necessarily having a path in mind. I also enjoy running in NYC parks and along the water.

Why did you choose to run the TCS New York City Marathon and what number marathon is this for you?
I chose to run the NYC marathon because it shows integrity and dedication to both my students and my school. My students think that this is an impossible task. I run for my kids! This will be my first marathon.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am a previous NYC teaching fellow. This is my 2nd year teaching in the Bronx at a public school. My students have low confidence levels both emotionally and academically. Finding an outlet for their frustrations allows them to succeed in the classroom.

Site Spotlight: Richard Johnson – Young Runners

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Learn more about our NYRR Youth Programs! We are 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 on 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 723X @ Binova, The Hawks — Bronx, NY

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
Last year I had one student named Messiah who ran all the time. Instead of playing in gym, he ran. Every year we get one student who is gifted at running. However we never pursued an outlet for them.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
Our students loved the attention given to them during practices and at races. They love sharing stories about the different race courses and hard practices.

Can you share a story of how your kids, or one student in particular, have been transformed or impacted by your program?
We have one student by the name of Isaiah who hated to exercise. He had to go on a diet for health reasons. When he started running he loved it. He realized that sometimes it’s all about finishing what you started.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
After the youth Jamboree at Randall’s Island, a group of students came to me and said “We need to practice every day, that’s the only way we are going to get better”.

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
This program has given students who would not normally consider themselves athletes a chance to realize their potential. This program is critical as it promotes healthy living and physical fitness.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started running in the winter of 2003. I read in a muscle magazine that running was a good way to increase definition. I ended up liking running more than lifting weights.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is Van Courtlandt park. It’s the only course that kills me every time  I run it. I love the fact that although I told my students about that course, they did not take me seriously until they ran that course.

Were you ever a TFK member, if so what did you like best about the program?
I was never a TFK member but I will always be indebted for the contributions they have made to my students.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am a first year track coach! My students are exceptional athletes. Sometimes getting the athlete out of them is a hard task. I ran my first half marathon in March. I will run my first Marathon in November. I hope to break the 3 hour mark. I work with special needs students. I wish I would have discovered this program earlier.