Youth program draws nearly 800 for track meet
SCHENECTADY There was great running weather the past couple days, and that’s exactly what close to 800 area students did Tuesday and Wednesday at a youth track meet at Union College.
Students from 19 area schools were participating in Just Run Albany, NY, which began in March and culminated with the meet.
“We’re really trying to give them another outlet, particularly for inner-city kids, to give them something structural to do once or twice a week,” said Ken Skinner, Just Run Albany, NY program administrator. “The program is an afterschool program
that’s run one hour after school, and all of the Just Run leaders at those schools are volunteers.”
The program generally involves children in grades two through six, though one school includes kindergartners and first-graders — New Scotland Elementary School. Students participating in the program were taught how to run properly, eat heathier and work on good behavior.
“The track meet is like a celebration of their finishing the Just Run program,” said Skinner. “All they’ve been doing is running with one another at their own schools. This is the first chance they’ve ever had to meet all these kids and all these different schools. The feedback we’ve gotten the last couple years is that the kids really enjoy seeing kids from other schools and competing with kids from other schools.”
Among the 19 schools that participated in the Just Run Albany, NY program this year were Schenectady’s Zoller and Paige elementary school. Both school’s Just Run program leaders, Christian Borger, a third-grade teacher at Zoller, and Suzanne Schaefer, a physical education teacher at Paige, were excited to have their kids participate in the program for a third year.
“The kids at our elementary school have gone on to run in middle school, and hopefully they’ll go on to the high school, as well,” said Borger. “Even just their attitudes have improved in school. They’re happy to be a part of something.”
The Just Run Albany, NY program is sponsored by the Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club, which donates $30,000 to the program each year.
“We’re very proud to sponsor this Just Run program because, as you look around, these young people are the future of running and the future of our country, and we’re excited to sponsor this opportunity,” said Maureen Cox, the club’s executive vice president.
Just Run Albany, NY is a satellite of the Big Sur International Marathon’s Just Run program. The local program was created four years ago as a pilot, with only two schools involved. Last year, there were 12 schools.
The program will begin a fall session in September, featuring cross-country events.
For more information about the program, visit www.justrun.org.