- Lower mortality rates
- Lower rates of depression
- Positive health outcomes
- Improved immune system
- More life satisfaction
- Increased energy
- Less stress
You’re probably aware of many ways to give back, such as volunteering at local races or participating and fundraising for a race on behalf of a charity. There are other ways that you can give back too! Take a look at these 3 programs which might spark your interest in using your passion for fitness as a way to volunteer...
BOKS – Build Our Kids Success
“The BOKS program is powered by communities and relies on the help of parents, teachers, schools and local volunteers to give kids a body and brain boost that will set them up for a day of learning.”
--BOKS Website, sponsored by Reebok
We know that most kids are not meeting the recommended guideline for exercise of 60 minutes per day. Plus, many schools do not have regular opportunities for physical activity – according to the Shape of the Nation Report, only 57% have regular recess and only 4% provide daily PE classes. Yet, research has shown that kids who exercise regularly and kids that have higher levels of physical fitness perform better in school. In addition, there is much emerging research on the cognitive benefits of short bursts of exercise – for example, the better focus and attention that occur after a few quick rounds of jumping jacks.
BOKS strives to increase physical activity in that before-school window in order to help kids meet their daily exercise needs and increase chances of success in the classroom.
You can get involved with this program by becoming a BOKS trainer and volunteering at a local school. You may find there is a school near you that already has a program started, or you may choose to work with a school that doesn’t to get one up and running. BOKS offers regular opportunities to become a trainer, where you can attend a free 4 hour session (t-shirt and meal included!) and learn about the program, how to structure classes, and actually play many of the games and activities that the kids would do.
I attended this training a few weeks ago and it was a blast. I can’t remember the last time I did a wall handstand or played tag as an adult – both of which I got a chance to do that day.
In addition, once you have approval from a school to start a program, you can get access to a full curriculum from BOKS. No need to spend hours reinventing the wheel; you have all the tools you need right there.
And right now, there are currently $1000 activation grants available to start a BOKS program at a school near you. If you receive a grant, you can use it as a stipend for time, to purchase equipment, to get the kids t-shirts, etc.
A few photos from BOKS training...
“Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national, for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change that results in employment and independent living.”
-Back on My Feet Website
Back on My Feet partners with homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities. Residents who want to join the program agree to commit to attending regular early morning (5:30am) runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If a resident attends at least 90% of these runs for 30 days, they enter into the “Next Steps” program where Back on My Feet staff help them develop a road map to attain education and housing. They receive benefits like educational and training opportunities, as well as the ability to apply for “financial aid” to help address “barriers to self-sufficiency.”
What’s really outstanding is that many alumni members – those who have gone on to get jobs and permanent housing – often stay involved with the program and help lead runs, providing motivation and support to others.
To date, Back on My Feet members have run over 300,000 miles.
You can get involved with Back on My Feet by volunteering to lead the morning runs! It’s simple - find your local chapters on their website, attend a 60 minute orientation, and then decide on a regular schedule you can commit to (whether that’s every other Monday or all three days a week!).
Girls on the Run
“Girls on the Run is a transformational physical activity based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade. We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.”
--Girls on the Run Website
In this program, girls meet twice a week for 12 weeks, totaling 24 lessons. The lessons utilize running as a tool to teach how to understand themselves, how to have healthy relationships and teamwork, and how to connect and influence the world as a whole. There are programs geared towards the 3-5th grade level as well as the 6th-8th grade level.
You can get involved with Girls on the Run by becoming a coach or a running buddy. Coaches lead the 12 week program with groups of 8-15 girls. The curriculum is already provided for you, so it’s up to you to just get out there and lead the sessions! If you’re not ready to commit to be a coach, you can volunteer as a running buddy for their final challenge –a 5K race. You run alongside your girl and help provide support and encouragement along the way, ensuring that she gets to that finish line.
Share with us: How do you give back? Are there any other organizations you love that share a passion for fitness and health?