Monday, June 12, 2017

GUEST POST: Impacting a Community with Running by Mikayla

I love how diverse the running community is (and how welcoming it can be to everyone and anyone). One of my Twitter followers [@Murphymnm2000] is a high school senior in Atlanta, Georgia and offered to write a guest post while we are out exploring the great outdoors. Her name is Mikayla and she's awesome! (I thought it'd be fun to get not only a "younger" perspective {seeing as I'm in my thirties}, but also a high school runner {I started running in my late twenties}.) She started running the summer before her freshman year and hated every step. Thankfully she stuck with it, and after a few years and many miles later, she loves running and sharing that love with the people around her. Today's post is how running can impact those around you in a positive way. So, without further ado, please welcome Mikayla!

How Running Can Improve the People Around You

One of my favorite things about the running community is how people from all walks of life can be brought together by their common love of running. Running is one of the only sports where all ages and ability levels can train, compete, and recover together. I experienced this amazing aspect of the sport this spring, where I led an elementary school running club.

Our team, which by the end of the season totaled 50 kids!

I wanted to start this club because I saw a need for an easily accessible, fun way to learn about fitness in my community. I did not become active until high school, when a bunch of friends peer pressured me to join my cross country team. Georgia has the 2nd highest childhood obesity rates in the country, with almost 40% of kids being overweight or obese. The particular school that we started the club in is a Title I school, which means that many of the kids come from low income families. We made our running club very inexpensive, providing them with prizes and free race opportunities throughout the season. We used our time in this club to teach kids how to set goals, choose healthy foods, and love being active.

Our athletes' goals for the season; including "run a 5", "get faster", etc

If you’re looking for a way to help the people in your community, consider incorporating your love of running into a community service project. When I first started the running club, I did not realize how much I would fall in love with helping kids train and compete. Seeing them run at our end of season race; getting PR’s, reaching year long goals, and spending time with their friends and coaches, was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

The start of one of our races

Another reason why I think everyone should volunteer is because of the awesome people you will get to work with. The picture below is our incredible team of coaches. I was friends with most of these people before, but I got to know the wonderful P.E. teacher at the elementary school, who taught me how to show 8 year olds that running can be fun. When you meet people while volunteering, you know that person likes helping others, and if you meet during something running related, you know you already have something in common!

I'm on the far left

If you want to make a difference in your community, there are endless things you can do. By combining your love of running with helping people, there are no limits to what you can accomplish. You can clean up a local greenway, hand out waters to runners on a hot day, help out a local cross country team, or volunteer at a race. The most important thing is that you find something that you are passionate about.

Have you volunteered in something meaningful in your community? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

First, you know I LOVE giving back, so when Mikayla mentioned this topic I ate it up like a giant Thanksgiving feast. Second, combining giving back with running (or something you're passionate about) - GENIUS! It's definitely something I try my hardest to do, but know I don't do enough of... So, I think I need to find a local race to volunteer at STAT!

How can you give back?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. Keep up the Great work