“I signed up to volunteer for the Up and Running program because it was something my friend, Bob, told me about during one of our runs. He said he was running with underprivileged kids as part of a volunteer program. I was interested because I like volunteering and I realize how lucky I am. Given any other set of circumstances, my life could be completely different. So the chance to help kids reach their goals and give them something to be proud of sounded like a great opportunity.
There was a need for volunteers in July at Nova Academy so I jumped at the chance to help out. I admit I was nervous at first because I was unsure of the kids’ commitment level and attitude. When I arrived for the first run, the other volunteers, Joanne, Sharlyn and the ever popular Ms. Do were really great at making me feel welcome.
More importantly, when I started running with some of the kids, they immediately made me feel comfortable. Their attitude was what stood out to me right away. They are hard working and genuinely want to succeed in this program. They also like to talk about their lives, sharing what they like to do and sometimes, the challenges they face. Some of them help their parents at work and some of them are just busy with a lot of extracurricular activities. Now, learning about them really is one of the best parts of being in this program. Although, they also use this program partially to socialize, which could be seen as a negative, this is a much better environment for them to be in rather than standing around in the mall.
Some of the kids are also pretty amazing at running. There is a lot of natural talent and athleticism and helping them reach that potential is a source of pride for me. I have to train extra hard just to keep up with some of them. This is an amazing experience and something I look forward to every week. Sometimes there are issues with tardiness or outright absences however, the most important part of this program is the outreach aspect and the fact that something like this is available gives kids a great chance to succeed in life.”