You might think that convincing a group of teenagers to wake up early on a Saturday morning to go running is an insurmountable task. However, for the jovial athletes at Teens Run DC, it’s a welcome routine. When we think about running, we can recognize its obvious benefits; on top of training students on their physical endurance, it also gives them a structure in which they can set goals and work towards them. There are a ton of additional pros to giving students an outlet for structured exercise like the opportunity to form strong bonds with peers, grow in a positive environment and develop under mentors.
“What we have been able to accomplish is that we have kids that believe,” shared Steve Hocker, Executive Director, Teens Run DC. “That’s the important thing about inner youth, you get them young, they need to believe that they can accomplish something.”
Teens Run DC is part of United Way NCA’s Fun, Fly, Fit initiative sponsored in part by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation. The goal of the program aims at bringing sweeping changes to students’ physical and behavioral health by incorporating physical fitness into in and after school programs. The initiative is founded on the belief that allowing students formative opportunities to develop physically in a positive environment while adopting social-emotional communication skills along the way, empowers them to succeed through high school and beyond.
Now a three-year veteran of the program, Alazar has translated what he’s learned from Teens Run DC into his work in the classroom and on the soccer field.
“In running you create goals and try to accomplish them,” shares Alazar. “Knowing that I can accomplish those goals in running, I understand that I can also accomplish my goals that are at school and also in soccer.”
Alazar’s story and the great work of Teens Run DC is just one avenue of United Way NCA’s health initiatives across the region. To learn more or to get engaged in one of our programs, please visit unitedwaynca.org/health