There’s something about setting and attaining goals, overcoming obstacles, getting some pretty good endorphins that keep me going. All those, plus, and more importantly, building playgrounds and funding cool programs that get at-risk kids moving more to spark their learning in school. At first running was definitely all about me, but now, the running is all about them and their success.
President and CEO
I started running when I was a mom of 3 young kids. At first it was a way to find time for myself and to have something just for me. I didn’t know at the time that I would eventually run more than 100 marathons, or that it would encourage me to launch a nonprofit that has now served tens of thousands of at-risk children.
Running gave, and still gives, me focus, self-confidence and well-being that I hadn’t had before. It changed the trajectory of my life and encouraged me to look beyond myself and how I could help the community. In doing so, I learned that research shows that running was not only having a positive effect on my physical health, it was also boosting my emotional health and changing my brain.
According to the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey, “physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another. For the brain to learn, these connections must be made” and “(e) xercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn.”
Not only was this true for me, but it also translates into real results when we look at students and exercise. As reported in Spark, when an exercise program was added to a junior high school in Titusville, PA, the standardized test scores “have risen from below the state average to 17 points above it in reading and 18 points above it in math.” The teachers also noted the psychosocial effects, with “not a single fist fight among the 550 junior high kids” since the program started.
Why I’m Involved in Running Brooke
RunningBrooke’s mission is for every child in every school and underserved neighborhood in Alexandria to reap the broad benefits of being physically active. Backed by science and prioritized by the Alexandria City School Board and School Superintendent, RunningBrooke’s innovative Move2Learn program encompasses four areas: funding for before, during, and after school programs; Move2Learn Toolkits and Teacher Trainings; Move2Learn Educational Summits; and neighborhood-changing community playgrounds. This plan of action ensures tens of thousands of children reap the emotional, physical, and academic benefits of being physically active.