NDN Running Program
When NDN Co-Executive Director Andre Perrin moved to the Near West Side in 2010 he immediately noticed that when he left on his daily jog, he would see a group of 5 kids standing on the corner doing nothing. When he would return about an hour later the group would be larger, about 10 kids. And usually they would be eating unhealthy potato chips and drinking soda’s laden with sugar. After about a month of watching this he decided to do something about it. He decided that a running program focused on healthy eating would be a great way to get the kids off the corners and start exercising and eating healthier. So, in the summer of 2010, the NDN Summer Program began with about 50 kids from the neighborhood. All of the kids come from low income families where running and healthy eating were not present in their lives.
Our Summer Running Program lasts for 10 weeks and focuses on training the kids in our program to run 5k races and culminates with our children running in the Chicago Blackhawks Mad Dash to Madison 5k that takes place in our neighborhood. The program also emphasizes healthy eating and the children slowly but surely begin to change their daily eating habits as they progress in the program. After each training session we provide healthy food for the children and we also provide them the opportunity to have access to fresh vegetables from our community garden. We are proud to have partnered with Nike who donates new running shoes to all of the kids who complete our 10 week program.
With tremendous support from the Chicago Blackhawks we have for the past 5 summers been diligent in our efforts to combat childhood obesity. 35.9% of African-American children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese. Obese children are more likely to suffer from asthma, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is critical that we get the children in our community to exercise and develop healthy eating habits. That is why we are so proud to have received tremendous support from the parents and kids in our community for this program.