Lakewood Family YMCA Launches Pilot Running Program Targeting Middle School Students


LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Ask any avid runner about the health benefits associated with a good workout and you’ll hear answers like increased self-discipline, goal setting, confidence and self esteem.

That’s why over 15 years ago, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon created the We Run This City Youth Marathon Program, which currently has more than 1,000 students

After seeing its success, the Lakewood Family YMCA is planning to offer the same program to college students in the area this winter, spring and summer.

“This pilot program is something we are offering to the community,” said Virgil Wahome, Associate Executive Director of the Lakewood Family YMCA. “This year we will start with the middle schools by getting one or two teachers to help us train those kids who are not involved in their school sports.

“It will give them something to participate in, because studies have shown that children who participate in a program like this help build confidence and improve their grades.” It’s another way to get that non-traditional kid or kid who doesn’t track and field to develop teamwork and camaraderie.

Students do not pay to participate in the program. Shoes, t-shirts, medals and running costs are provided free of charge to each participant.

“After the holidays we will contact the local managers,” Wahome said. “After providing them with information, we will hold community meetings either at our facility or at the high school.

“The overall goal is that every branch of the YMCA that does this has a final race. Our goal is to train 30 participants for the Cleveland Marathon 5k or 10k. In Lakewood, we also have the Summer Meltdown. It would be nice if they were done with it.

Each month, the students engage in a 5 km race. They also receive a training program with the distances necessary to prepare for the marathon, as well as a nutritional guide. The first race of the season will take place in January.

“Health and wellness is such an important thing which is vital for the development of children,” Wahome said. “It’s a program where you don’t have to be the fastest runner. You don’t have to be a physical specimen. It is open to all college students.

The Lakewood Family YMCA’s WRTC program may be using the Lakewood High School track to train middle school students. (John Benson /

“Part of the training will take place at the YMCA of Lakewood. We hope to get some training on the outdoor high school track or just lead the community. This has not yet been defined.

To support the pilot expansion of the We Run This City program in Lakewood, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland received a grant from the Three Arches Foundation.

The Lakewood nonprofit is donating $ 42,000 over two years to support physical health issues and social disengagement among local youth.

“The WRTC program has impacted the lives of thousands of children in Cleveland for many years,” said Michael Carter, executive director of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland District, in a press release.

“Crossing the finish line is just the start for these students. They leave the program with greater self-confidence and improved resilience capacities among young people. We are grateful for the support of the Three Arches Foundation so that we can bring this successful model to Lakewood. “

For more information on WRTC, email or call Wahome at 216-521-8400.

Read more news from the Sun Post Herald here.


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