After 6 months of Friday nights spent in an early bed so that I could greet the dawn with the crisp Santa Monica morning air filling my ever expanding lungs I was ready, and on March 4, 2007 I crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles City Marathon. As my friend and I huffed and puffed our way along the oft-times entertaining, sometimes dreary 26.2 mile course there was nary a moment that a young person in a bright turquoise hat and singlet couldnâ€™t be spotted or their laughter heard. These middle and high school kids were members of a group called Students Run L.A.
Students Run L.A. began in 1986 when an East Los Angeles continuation school teacher decided to share his life changing marathon experience with â€œat-riskâ€ students by inviting them to train with him. An at-risk student is any student who faces major obstacles to completing his/her academic program, such as a lack of school resources, exposure to crime and drug use in their local communities, and/or a lack of parental support. Many of these students fail to graduate high school or go on to complete a college degree. Today, the mission of SRLA is simple. Empower students by giving them the opportunity to take on a seemingly unattainable goal and achieve it. Secondary to this aim, but no less important in a nation that is becoming increasingly overweight and lethargic, is to instill life-long fitness habits. In my opinion that is nothing short of a win-win.
Successful completion of a marathon requires discipline, determination, focus, and a more than a dash of perseverance. The very same qualities required to navigate high school and subsequently, college. After 6 months of spending afternoons and weekends training with their teachers these athletes cross the finish line and are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that almost any goal can be attained by simply not giving up. How does this translate to reading, writing, and arithmetic? The students sum it up best:
- â€œThis program has taught me that I can do anything that I set my mind to and (I was) able to continue to keep my grades upâ€ (Jorge at Lincoln High School)
- â€œ(R)unning keeps me away from drugs, alcohol, gangs, etcâ€¦Students Run L.A. is an excellent program for different students in Los Angeles.â€ (Zulema at Foshay Learning Center)
- â€œSRLA taught me how important I am because through their generosity, I learned that some people believe in me and can give me a chance to be the best I can.â€ (Mohammad at Leuzinger High School)
- â€œOnce you have crossed the finish line you know that you are capable of finishing anything in life.â€ (Erica at Eagle Rock High School)
And if testimonials arenâ€™t convincing enough, consider that only 65% of students matriculating into the Los Angeles Unified School district receive diplomas or go on to college compared to 90% of the SRLA participants. In addition to helping these students finish high school the program provides college scholarships to qualified students who have completed the Los Angeles marathon with SRLA.
In the 17 years since its inception, the program has grown to include over 150 Los Angeles area schools and youth groups, and has helped more than 30,000 students cross the finish line. More importantly it has filled a dire need for passing on the skills necessary to be successful in life to students who may become lost in the shuffle otherwise. How can that be bad?
Want to know more, volunteer, or make a contribution?
Want to run in the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon? Join a training club! Season begins in August.
The biggest: http://www.laroadrunners.com/site3.aspx
The best!: http://www.laleggers.org/
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 Jen
Run for your life!
Copyright © 2010 Jen
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