Being one of the most well-known running organizations in the nation, New York Road Runners (NYRR) has a remarkable platform to educate, encourage and mentor young runners. With programs like the Mighty Milers, designed for kids pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and Young Runners, designed for kids third through twelfth grades, NYRR does not fall short in providing events and resources to get kids physically active as a lifestyle. In fact, the NYRR goes a step further to build the next generation of athletes by supporting coaches, educators, and fitness leaders with free educational materials like award-winning coaching videos and P.E. lesson plans.
Now middle school students are getting extra attention from NYRR with the launch of the Youth Running Series. This three-season program includes cross country, indoor track and road running ranging in distances from three-quarters of a mile to two miles. Although the races are timed and scored, they are for pure enjoyment and all fitness levels are welcome. By offering fun races with kid-friendly distances, NYRR is providing creative ways to keep this age group physically active, healthy and fit.
But the benefits of a program like the NYRR Youth Running Series go way beyond keeping middle school kids fit – it helps them transition into another chapter of their lives with a little more ease. One of the most difficult transitions for young people is the move from elementary to middle school. Studies prove that middle school is the time when most kids experience hormonally induced physical, emotional, and mental changes. Also, middle school is generally less nurturing and more academically demanding than elementary school. The American Psychological Association reports that physically fit sixth-graders are overall happier and have greater self-esteem when they reach seventh grade. Even further, numerous studies link physical activity with academic performance. A study conducted by James Pivarnik, former president-elect of the American College of Sports Medicine, and colleagues found that middle school students who performed best on fitness tests performed better academically as well. Experts explain that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps with memory and concentration. Continuing physical activity through the middle school years creates higher chances of staying active through high school and into adulthood.
So with the initiative of the Youth Running series, NYRR is making a positive impact in middle school kids that could ultimately be life-changing. The NYRR Youth Running series kicks off Sunday, September 14th as part of the Henry Isola Cross Country Classic in Van Cortlandt Park. Registration is open to all sixth through eighth graders citywide on MY NYRR for just $10 per race, and all participating kids receive a race T-shirt.