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AUSTIN, TX – The USATF Foundation partnered with Marathon Kids to bring the USATF Foundation’s youth program Run With US! to five Austin, Texas elementary schools that participate in the Marathon Kids program.

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The five Austin elementary schools, all part of the Austin Independent School District (Austin ISD), that were chosen to participate in the pilot week of Run With US! at Marathon Kids included: Maplewood Elementary, TA Brown Elementary, Oak Springs Elementary, Ortega Elementary, and Pillow Elementary. Over 1,000 kids received the inspiring opportunity to learn from, meet, and exercise with USATF Foundation athletes.

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The athletes who served as Foundation athlete mentors were Olympian hammer thrower Amanda Bingson and Olympic hopeful and 2012 Olympic Trials champion javelin thrower Sam Humphreys. The athletes’ sheer presence at the school lit up the smiling faces of the hundreds of impressionable kids. It was a joyous occasion for everyone involved, including the athletes who dedicated their time to give back in the community.

“Thank you so much to the USA Track & Field Foundation & Marathon Kids for bringing Sam Humphreys and Amanda Bingson to Pillow Elementary. As a Title I campus, our students face an opportunity gap that we try hard to close every day. This was one of those opportunities. Our students loved hearing an inspirational message from actual professional track & field athletes and it was very motivating for them as a precursor to our campus fun run that day! Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving our students this opportunity,” exclaimed Brian Hill, Principal, Dorinda Pillow Elementary School.

At each school, positive messaging was shared by the athletes about what it means to be a professional track & field athlete, how much time and effort goes into making your dreams come true, and that anything is possible if you work hard enough to achieve your goals. The children learned about the athletes healthy eating habits, how they create goals and commit to reaching them, and heard stories of determination and resilience. The athletes also introduced the kids to the USATF Foundation’s free mobile exer-game app that can be used at home to stay active.

“Our shared vision to improve the health and well-being of kids through track & field was certainly the catalyst for Run With US! at Marathon Kids,” Foundation Director Ashley Wright said. “Using US Olympians and Olympic hopefuls to introduce the program and mentor kids along the way makes running come to life as something more than a way to stay in shape, but also as a story of hard work and commitment, a story of Olympic sized dreams coming true, and a friendly face that kids can look up to in their classroom. Run With US! at Marathon Kids gives kids a hard goal, but provides athlete mentors to support them. In this case, US Olympians are often cheering for kids – a memory that’s sure to last a lifetime encouraging kids to face challenging obstacles they may face on the track or in the classroom.”

After the presentation portion of the event at each school, Bingson and Humphreys joined the children outside to cheer them on and run with them as they completed mileage for their Marathon Kids run clubs. Run With US! at Marathon kids has great potential to affect kids not only throughout the Austin area but at Marathon Kids programs across the country where USATF Foundation athletes are eager to give back in their communities.

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About Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids is a nonprofit born out of the belief that kids deserve to live happier, healthier lives – and that we have the ability to make that possible. Kids everywhere need more access to physical activity, and Marathon Kids has built a program, community and movement to get them running. Any motivated adult can start a running club at any school, organization, neighborhood or even at home for just $15 per participant.

For more information, visit marathonkids.org

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Nike and Kids Run Free bring top US project ‘Marathon Kids’ to the UK

Nike Athletes Emily Diamond and James Dasaolu helped launch the initiative

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By Hannah Oakman, Academy Today

Nike and charity Kids Run Free have joined forces to bring new running programme Marathon Kids to UK primary schools. The programme aims to provide fun running experiences for kids, helping them to get active early and for life.

Marathon Kids has already helped to get two million children in the US running regularly, one lap at a time, one day at a time, and eventually running the equivalent of up to four marathons over the course of a school year.

Kids earn Nike rewards, such as t-shirts, shoe laces, tags and wristbands, as they reach each marathon milestone to celebrate their progress.

Todays’ generation of children is the least active ever, according to new, independent research. In England, only one in five boys and one in six girls are meeting current guidelines of at least one hour of moderately intensive physical activity every day, according to the 2012 Health Survey for England. Marathon Kids will initially be launched in primary schools across London with the aim of reaching thousands of children in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Marathon Kids launched at the end of September at the Newham Leisure Centre Running Track. Children had the chance to meet Nike Athletes Emily Diamond and James Dasaolu who have recently returned from the Rio Olympics.

Track and field athlete and Olympic bronze medalist Emily Diamond, said: ‘Running is a great starting point to get kids moving, because any sports involve running, whether it’s football or hockey. It also helps children to make friends and develop a variety of skills which will be useful later in life, whether that’s sport related or not.’

Dan Burrows, Senior Director for Global Community Impact Europe at Nike, added: “Numerous studies show active kids are happier, healthier and more successful at school and we know that good habits start early in life. Marathon Kids engages kids in a positive, simple, goal-driven running programme to make physical activity a natural part of their lives. We’ve had great success with this initiative in the US and we’re excited to start our partnership with Kids Run Free here in the UK to help even more children lead active lives.”

Schools can request more information on the programme and how to sign up by emailing marathonkids@kidsrunfree.co.uk