ACHILLES KIDS OVERVIEW
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 22 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 once 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.
RUN TO LEARN
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 350 schools in the U.S. with over 11,000 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).