Next to love and care, some of the most empowering and nurturing things that can be provided to children and teens are accessible tools that promote physical health and well-being. I’m not referring to literature about food pyramids, but hands-on, educational experiences that get kids on their feet. In New York City’s underserved communities, access to invaluable health-bearing activities can also keep kids off the street. New York Road Runners (NYRR) Youth and Community Services Division has been equipping young people with such indispensible health programs for nearly a decade.
NYRR now serves more than 100,000 kindergarten to high school kids nationwide, and in South Africa. Last year, participants clocked in nearly 3,000,000 miles collectively! NYRR’s school-based youth running programs last the breadth of the school year and take place during or after school. Each member enrolled in their Mighty Milers program for younger children has a page on the website’s database (www.nyrrf.org) to help keep track of the distances they’ve traveled. Rewards, such as really neat medals, are granted after achieving various mile markers. They also have the slightly more competitive, after-school Young Runners program for older kids.
Healthy running and walking isn’t possible, however, without sturdy sneakers. Unfortunately, in less economically stable neighborhoods, access to good shoes can be limited. That’s why NYRR established an annual sneaker drive. This year, which marks the fifth annual drive, at least 200 kids will receive much-needed new shoes.
Interested in empowering a child in need with the gift of running? You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can make a donation of new sneakers. You can also make a monetary donation on NYRR’s website (webapps.nyrr.org/supportus) and sneakers will be purchased for a child on your behalf. Just make sure to write "Holiday Sneaker Drive" in the "How did you hear about NYRR?" section.
The Running Company is also collecting and matching cash donations at their NYC locations until December 24. Donors who make a full donation to cover the cost of sneakers will be given the name and size of the child they helped, and will receive 15 percent off their other purchases for the day. Find out more here: therunningcompany.net/new-yorks-homepage
Note: Special thanks to NYRR’s Media Relations representative Laura Paulus for teaching me about this great organization. Laura, a mother of two beautiful children, has ceaselessly devoted herself to NYRR for the past three years.
Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.
Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.