Running toward healthier body image, self esteem and acceptance
HealthCorps running program at Health Professions High will culminate with 5k Women’s Fitness Festival run at State Capitol
DATE: Sunday, June 7, 2015
TIME: 7:30 a.m. start time
PLACE: starting and finishing at the State Capitol
Sacramento – in a high school without a track and limited sports and physical activities, HealthCorps is filling the need while offering a safe space for teenage girls to discuss food, body image and women’s rights.
Started by HealthCorps Coordinator Alice Curchin and teacher Deborah Meltvedt at Health Professions High School, the running team consists of a dozen girls ranging from different grade levels, running abilities and peer groups. Many had never before considered themselves “runners,” struggled with body image and lacked confidence in their physical abilities, Curchin says.
“Girls today have to sort through countless messages about their health, their worth and their abilities – we want to help them find the power to write their own story,” Curchin said. “Through teamwork and conversations about health, gender roles, and media influences, this club helps them learn to make thoughtful decisions about their bodies and how to stand up for themselves and each other.”
Founded in 2003 by Dr. Oz and his wife Lisa to reverse the childhood obesity crisis, HealthCorps educates teens in nutrition, fitness and mental resilience in 55 high schools nationwide – including six in Sacramento. Each school has a HealthCorps Coordinator who works directly with students, providing tailored lessons, facilitating after-school clubs like this, and organizing events that form a strong foundation as students segue from high school to the “real world.”
The girls were recently the beneficiaries of shoe donations from Fleet Feet Sacramento, as many were training in ill-fitting shoes and couldn’t afford new ones. Sporting their new digs, the girls will hit the pavement in the upcoming Women’s Fitness Festival – a 5k run through downtown Sacramento – which will serve as the apex for the HealthCorps-fueled team.
Fleet Feet Sacramento co-owner Jan Sweeney believes in providing running resources to kids of all ages throughout the community, but especially older ones because many public schools don’t require P.E. after a certain grade.
“I have personally witnessed the transformations of many of these children through fitness – which is to mean they go on to make good life choices as teens and into young adulthood – because of the discipline and determination they develop through running,” Sweeney said. “Because Project Fit received some grant money from the Fleet Feet corporate office and it is the beneficiary of our Shamrock’n half marathon, we are able to help students like those at Health Professions High School – I look at it as a very good investment in ‘our’ kids.”
The girls certainly seem to be noticing the changes in themselves and each other. Student Chioneso Riddick says she’s learned discipline and has been running every week on her own since joining. “I push myself because I know what I am capable of, plus I am persevering because of our upcoming race,” she said. “I am proud to be part of a movement so small and so new, yet so powerful.”