JUST RUN for Kids

Before each school year, we discuss the problem of childhood obesity, and how our local youth running program is an effective weapon for fighting this battle.

We know our ranting sounds the same each year – so this time, we’ll make a deal with you: once the epidemic is reversed in Monterey County, we’ll stop mentioning it every fall. Until then, we’ll do everything we can to promote the Just Run program.

Just Run is a free, school-based program created by the Big Sur Marathon Board of Directors to help get kids running and learning about healthy eating. Last year, 42 schools in Monterey County participated, and over 4,000 children ran a combined 134,000 miles in the Just Run program.

We’d love to see every school in Monterey County participate in the program. If your child’s school does not have a Just Run program, please talk to your principal about getting one started. The website http://www.justrun.org/ has all the information you need about the program, and you can also contact Just Run Director Susan Love at 625-6226 or susanwlove@sbcglobal.net to find out more.

Just Run has won several awards including the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness’s first ever Gold Medal for best youth program in California. Susan Love received Running USA’s award as national youth program contributor of the year. The program has been featured in Runner’s World magazine in the past, and will be profiled again in the next issue of the magazine.

There are some upcoming Just Run introductory meetings for principals, teachers, parents, or interested community members scheduled in the next few weeks:

Thursday, September 6th, from 4:30 to 6PM at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Downing Resource Center.

Monday, September 10th, from 5 to 6:30PM at the Holiday Inn in Morgan Hill.

Tuesday, September 11th, from 5 to 6:30PM at the Marriott Hotel in Monterey.

Monday, September 24th, from 5 to 6:30PM at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco.

As you can see from the list, the program has been so successful in Monterey County that Santa Clara, San Benito, and San Francisco area schools have asked that the program be expanded to their areas.

The beauty of the Just Run program is that anyone can become a leader with the web-based information model. It only takes one enthusiastic person at a school or youth group to implement a successful program – teacher or parent, runner or non-runner. The website provides everything the leaders need to know regarding age appropriate activities, stretching, and nutrition.

The website also has downloadable forms such as parent permission forms, family fitness contracts, recommended fitness drills, logs for recording mileage, healthy fundraiser forms, and even mile markers. All of these are provided in Spanish and English.

Just Run sponsors several children’s races in conjunction with local running events. Children can do races (ranging from 400 meters to 5K) almost year round - from the Stevenson Run in the Forest on Sept. 22nd, to the Run Forrest Run at Cannery Row on November 11th, and the Together with Love Run in Pacific Grove in February.

Besides emphasizing running and healthy activity, the Just Run program promotes good citizenship through its Just Deeds program, which also teaches children goal setting, responsibility, and cooperative team spirit.

One of the most innovative parts of the website is the Run Across the USA. School groups accumulate their mileage and post it online. Their group’s personalized Just Run shoe logo gradually travels across a map of the United States as the group runs more miles. There are hundreds of links to historical, geographical, and fun locations as the group virtually runs across the United States. Teachers can link this trip to school curriculums to help brings these locations to life.

Upcoming Events

We are excited to announce some very special first time Just Run events planned for Monterey this year:

Whole Foods Market in Del Monte Center is having a Just Run day on Wednesday, September 5th. Five percent of the store’s sales on that day will be donated to the Just Run program. An informational table will be set up in front of the store so that you can donate or learn more about the program. Fleet Feet Sports, a few doors down from Whole Foods will also be participating with a similar donation. We applaud Whole Foods and Fleet Feet for their generous support of Monterey County’s youth.

The Big Sur Marathon, the City of Monterey, and Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula are planning a Just Run series of children’s races in downtown Monterey near the Custom House Plaza on Saturday morning, November 10th. This is the day before the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay and the Run Forrest Run 5K on November 11th. Definitely mark this weekend on your calendar.

November 10th will be dedicated to kid’s races, fun activities, and health screenings. November 11th will be devoted to adults doing their best in the Half Marathon and the 5K. It’s an ideal weekend to promote fitness activities on the Central Coast.

Just Run is definitely making a positive impact on children in Monterey County, and so can you. Make sure your children get involved in a Just Run program at their school, and encourage them to participate in the childrens’ races this fall. Go shopping at Whole Foods and buy shoes from Fleet Feet on September 5th. Your participation will be greatly appreciated!

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