We Run This City Youth Marathon Program is a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Department of Public Health, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), and the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.
The 12-16-week training program strives to teach young people to set and achieve goals by preparing them to run in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. The students run about 25 of the 26 miles in gym class during the school year and the final 1.2 miles at the actual marathon downtown. Some highly-motivated students opt to run a 10k race on the marathon day. Crossing the finish line is just a part of the experience – students leave the program with greater self-confidence and increased levels of fitness and endurance.
The PRCHN coordinated the evaluation of the program by examining the program’s impact on students’ health, activity, and school performance by collecting data on these factors before and after the program. Volunteers assisting in the evaluation included CMSD school nurses, nursing and nutrition students from Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University Students.
Each year of the Marathon Program, participating CMSD students were asked to take part in pre- and post- program assessments. The assessments consist of surveys measuring self-reported items such as school achievement, motivation for physical activity, self-confidence and self-efficacy, peer and family relationships, environmental support for healthy behavior, sleeping habits, and depression. The survey was administered by way of an audio-enhanced personal digital assistant (APDA). In addition to the survey, students were asked to undergo physical assessments where measures of blood pressure, height, weight, hip circumference, waist circumference, and endurance are obtained.
From these surveys and measurements, PRCHN researchers were able to determine direction and amount of change in each of those dimensions. Highlights often included decreased blood pressure, increased endurance, and numerous reports of improved self-image and relationships with others. Students in 2010 were found to show significant improvements in performance on the Sit to Stand test (a test of lower body strength and balance) and the PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Run). There has been a significant reduction in blood pressure in students found to be pre-hypertensive and hypertensive.
To learn more about the program, follow this link to visit the official YMCA page for We Run This City.