Finding Our Stride:
A School-Based Running Initiative
Created and Funded by the Children’s Fund of the Upper Valley
What is Finding Our Stride?
Finding Our Stride creates, funds and helps implement school-based running programs in middle and elementary schools in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of VT and NH. Our mission is to build fitness, self-esteem and teamwork through running. We partner with school leadership (typically the principal) to design a program that works best for each school. If the school does not have a middle school program, we can help create a co-ed middle school program. If the school has Girls on the Run, we can create a Finding Our Stride program for elementary school boys. The principals recruit teachers or qualified parents as coaches and we fund coaching stipends.
We have learned over time that recruitment and retention of coaching staff from within the school is critical to sustainability. We may also fund, as needed, bus transport to local trails or running locations (if the school has no suitable place for kids to run); t-shirts for the runners (some teams develop a team name and create a logo for their t-shirts); healthy snacks; equipment; and new running shoes for kids who cannot afford them (need determined by the principal or other school leadership).
Criteria for school selection
Need: based on a percentage of school population meeting some or all of the following criteria: free and reduced lunch (at least 30%); children with an IEP/504; homeless population; ESL students.
School Champion: We must have an advocate from within the school leadership for the program at each school; typically the school principal; often a team of principal, guidance and teachers.
Measurement of Outcomes
We are partnering with the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth Medical School. Beginning in spring of 2016, we are surveying all participants in each of our running programs at the beginning and end of the season, to better measure our impact with respect to our three goals of building fitness, community and self-confidence.
We feel strongly about building sustainable programs. We work with schools that are comfortable with a pledge of our support for a three to five-year timeframe. Once we have worked with a school for two to three years, we begin helping them to pursue other funding strategies: for example, asking for funds within the school budget or applying for other local grants.
Jennifer A Williams, Joint Venture Partner, Norwich Partners
Executive Director, Childrens’ Fund of the Upper Valley