INDIANAPOLIS – The USA Track & Field Foundation successfully launched the inaugural Run With US! (RWUS!) program on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at the John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles, CA, Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic and Chairman Bob Greifeld announced today.
The primary focus of RWUS! is fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity and its associated negative medical, social and psychological effects, especially as it relates to inner-city youth. By having elite athletes and Olympians as teachers, mentors and role models, the Foundation expects to positively impact the way children view exercise and nutrition.
“The launch of the Run With US! program marks an exciting new chapter in grant-making and programming for the USA Track & Field Foundation,” said Foundation Director Amory Rowe. “The Foundation has long been committed to engendering opportunities for both elite athletes and youths in the sport of track and field, and now with the launch of RWUS!, it hopes to combine aspects of both of those priority funding areas by enlisting the sport’s most talented athletes to serve on the frontlines of the battle against childhood obesity. The Foundation believes that the pilot program at the John Muir School – as well as other future RWUS! programs in Los Angeles and nationwide -will place some of our finest mentors in the most deserving communities to teach critically important —and even life-saving —lessons to our youngest citizens about the merits of leading healthy and fit lives.”
Athletes Ginnie Powell (100m hurdles) and Ryan Wilson (110m hurdles) led the first day’s activities and will spearhead the LA program throughout the initial six-week phase. Local non-profit LA’s Promise partnered with the USATF Foundation on the launch and will continue to assist the Foundation on an ongoing basis. Gallup Corporation has also signed on to provide program measurement.
After opening introductions, more than 125 middle-school kids were engaged in a trivia contest on nutrition, followed by an intense introduction to the fine art of sprinting and starting. Prizes were awarded to those that performed well. “Everyone had a blast,” noted Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic.
Also on-hand at John Muir for the launch were members of the USATF Foundation Board, including noted film producer Frank Marshall, Director Dan McClory, Executive Director Tom Jackovic; athletes Carmelita Jeter (2011 World Outdoor Champion & 2011 Jesse Owens Award winner), Nicole Leach (100m hurdles), Brandon Shaw (800m); from LA’s Promise Veronica Melvin (CEO) and Chaitali Gala (Associate Director, Special Projects).
“I believe our youth need positive and energetic role models, and what better way than bringing elite athletes and Olympians to our schools to share their journey, knowledge and wisdom,” said Zoila Gomez, elite marathoner and USATF Foundation program coordinator.
Please visit the Foundation’s Facebook page – Run With US! & The USA Track & Field Foundation – to get a true perspective at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Run-With-US-The-USA-Track-Field-Foundation/221415794619893.