This spring, over 600 Cleveland public school students will run in a youth marathon program, and they’re starting to shape up now. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports the program is another step the district is taking to combat childhood obesity.
Nearly 40% of the kids who participate in the We Run This City Youth Marathon are considered overweight, says Cleveland YMCA Program Director Tara Taylor, and the non-competitive race encourages them to get more exercise. But there’s another benefit, she says: it helps kids learn to set goals for themselves.
Taylor: “If they set a goal to run 2-3 miles a week, to do a 10k, to do a half marathon, once they cross the finish line of this race, this will help them to set goals throughout their entire life.”
The marathon has been held each year since 2006, and the Y recruits CMSD schools to participate for free.
Training lasts 12-14 weeks, and the first step is a series of pre tests to measure the kids’ blood pressure, physical fitness, and behavioral attitudes toward health. Nurses from CMSD and master’s students from Case Western Reserve University administer the tests.
Deion Brown, an 8th grader at Willow Elementary, is excited to participate for a third time. He says the program has helped him lose weight and given him courage and strength.
Brown: “I gained those things by coming to practice all the time without missing a day and staying healthy.”
After the May 15th race, the students will again be tested. Taylor says the post-race tests have historically shown a sharp decrease in students’ blood pressure.
We Run This City is part of the Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon.