By Ker’Shyra Myrick
Committed to “Creating community through people, parks and programs,” the Murrysville Recreation Department in Pennsylvania is home to an array of programs for kids and families.
Looking for additional ways to cater to their residents the Ready, Set, RUN! program, provided by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, proved to be a great fit for the department.
“We decided to use the Ready, Set, RUN! program because of its character-building component as well as the exercise component,” said James Passarelli, a coach for the Murrysville Recreation Department. “That way it teaches the kids to be the best overall person, not just the most athletic individual. That really stood out to us.”
Improving the health of their residents and creating a sense of community through recreational and educational opportunities is of the utmost importance to the Murrysville staff, and choosing the Ready, Set, RUN! program provided a way to connect with their residents.
The program is easy to run and is designed to build confidence and character in its participants while working toward the goal of completing a 5K run. Running is a healthy exercise alternative for children who may be apprehensive about traditional team sports.
“The kids absolutely love the program,” said Passarelli. “They come in with their runs already planned out for the coaches and they love the fact that they get to work with us in planning on where we will run each day. The kids also love having a chance to be the leader for the day where they can lead stretches and pick the game we play.”
In addition to running, the program places an emphasis on life skill development and offers participants an opportunity to learn about and take part in things such as healthy eating habits, positive goal setting, giving back to the community, and more.
“We also try to incorporate a new food homework assignment which is another big favorite of the kids,” Passarelli said. “They come in telling us all about the new healthy food they tried.”
With more than 40 kids in the program, Ready, Set, RUN! has become a favorite of the kids, and parents as well.
“Parents have told us over and over how surprised they are that they do not have to fight with their kids to get them to come out to the park early in the morning to run, and how disappointed the kids are if they have to miss a day of the program,” Passarelli said. “One of the grandparents of the kids participating in the program told us how amazing it has been to see how much maturity their grandchild has gained because of the program.”
The Murrysville Recreation Department wants to make it all about the kids and encourage them to continue to achieve their goals by partnering their youngsters with older high school kids to help them along the way.
“We recently had our 5K. We wanted to make sure our kids were stars for the day and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as they finished made everything worth it,” Passarelli said. “The high school kids are also always amazed at how well the kids do during the 5K. At the end of the race we had two sisters come up to us after the run with smiles on their faces telling us that they only stopped two times and only for a few seconds. They then immediately set the goal of not stopping for next year.”
The Murrysville Recreation Department is committed to continuing their Ready, Set, RUN! program and creating more excitement among the kids.
“We are so happy with how nice our kids are and how they almost always say ‘thank you’ to the coaches and that they treat each other with respect,” said Passarelli. “Ready, Set, RUN! is a great program. Anytime you can get 40 or more kids ages 7 and up to come out and run each day without complaint is amazing. We have had more kids ask if they can join as the summer progresses, which is great because that really shows that they are enjoying the program enough to tell their friends about it and encouraging them to join as well.”
For more information on bringing Ready, Set, RUN! to your community visit HERE.
National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc
2050 Vista Parkway
West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
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