Physical activity is an important part of every child’s healthy development. But for children with disabilities, it’s more important than you think. A recent Reuters Health study reports that children with disabilities who participate in the right exercise program show improved quality of life, greater aerobic capacity, and better function.

The Achilles Kids running-walking-rolling programs have been illustrating this for over 14 years. Kids with disabilities get the opportunity to exercise regularly and compete with other runners, helping them become stronger and healthier. Equally important, they give children a way to measure achievement at any level of participation, gain confidence through their successes, and have fun.

Achilles Kids offers three programs to meet the needs of children with disabilities. All of the programs are available through our New York chapter and are being rolled out to other chapters throughout the world. To find out if there is a program in your area, or to get information on starting one, please contact us at: 212.354.0300 x305.

2 Ways to Win

  • Achilles Kids: Races and Workouts
    Training activities that integrate free-play, games, and nutritious snacks to make the experience fun and provide (or feature) racing opportunities.
  • Achilles Kids: Run to Learn
    A free school program providing physical activity integrated with educational components. Kids participate in a “virtual” marathon, completed over the school year. The route is plotted on a map of their city and, on a weekly basis, the children do laps equivalent to a portion of the route. Teachers incorporate geography, social studies, reading and math skills into the activity.


In New York City, the Achilles Kids: Races and Workout program is giving children with disabilities the opportunity to train, workout, and race. Children are paired with volunteers who run/walk together and provide training assistance and encouragement.

The benefits of this program are clear:

  • The majority of participating children see a dramatic improvement in fitness levels and physical capabilities. Children beginning the program with limited running or walking range, often work their way up to a mile or more.
  • Volunteers provide training assistance and encouragement, helping children learn to set achievable goals based on fitness levels and capabilities and gain confidence through their accomplishments.
  • The races and workouts provide a nurturing environment for children and create a supportive community through their relationships with other disabled runners, able-bodied siblings, as well as with able-bodied volunteers.

Workouts & Training

Our New York City Achilles Kids chapter sponsors two programs for children with disabilities that meet year-round. Indoor events are held throughout the year at the Jewish Community Center, 334 Amsterdam Avenue at W. 76th Street. These sessions are held twice a month and introduce a fun game-like aspect to running. For children with disabilities ages 2 - 18 and their able-bodied siblings. Please email Janet for additional information.

Achilles Kids Central Park Training Program is a weekly running program that helps children with disabilities be active and achieve by training for and participating in mainstream races. We meet in Central Park at 90th Street and Fifth Avenue at 10 am. Please email Megan for additional information.


The New York Achilles Kids Chapter participates in our signature race, The Achilles Hope & Possibility 4M in June. We also participate in a number of New York Road Runner (NYRR) kids races throughout the year.

These races and workouts also give children with disabilities the opportunity to compete alongside able-bodied children and is a great tool for breaking down barriers and raising awareness. Achilles pays the entry fees for all participants.


It’s always fun for runners to choose routes where the scenery is interesting and there is a lot to see. For children with disabilities, this can be difficult to accomplish during the course of a school day.

Achilles Kids: Run to Learn program was developed in 1995 by Achilles International. The program consists of a series of physical and educational activities that integrate educational challenges and games with running, walking, rolling, or other forms of movement to encourage and motivate children to participate in regular physical activity.

It is based on a real 26.2 marathon, but done virtually. In a year-long gym activity, children do a number of laps each week. The laps are counted and converted into miles, and then charted as a 26.2 mile route on a map of their town. While the children are tackling the long-term accomplishment of completing the marathon, they are also realizing short-term achievements based on meeting weekly goals.

But the program goes far beyond the physical accomplishment of achieving their distance goals. It incorporates educational and physical activities, segmented by grade levels K through 6, that provide lessons in math, English, science, and nutrition. 

The program is free and Achilles supplies classroom teachers and adaptive physical education teachers with all the training materials, customized virtual marathon maps of your city, as well as ancillary materials including Achilles Kids  t-shirts, training log books, lap charts, 5 miler certificates, and half-marathoner medals.

Achilles Kids: Run to Learn is currently in over 300 schools in the U.S. with over 10,000 kids participating.

To request more information about the program or find out about setting up a program in a school in your area click here to email us, or call (212.354.0300 x305).

“When I first started teaching adaptive physical education I worked in hallways, cafeterias and basically any space that the school would allow. When I received this position at PS 222 I was thrilled to know that I was going to get a gym for my program. The first thing I wanted to start was a running program. I trained my children to do laps. They liked it, but it was hard to keep them motivated. I heard about Achilles Kids….I was thrilled to know that there was a program that I could use to motivate the children to run. Well, to say the least I haven’’t been able to stop them. “There is something about being able to track their success that they love. I use poker chips to track their laps, and sticker charts to track their miles, and of course the map to plot their whereabouts. They come in every class crazed about running their laps. When I say “last lap” there is a big sigh among them. They love the program as much as I do. At the end of the year when they are given a t-shirt, or a pair of sneakers to commemorate their success and accomplishments, it is the look on their face that tells me how much they really love this program, and what a wonderful tool it is for educators.”
- Kim Cori Teacher,
 PS 222 Brooklyn