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Michael Dove – Fighting Childhood Obesity
Big Sur International Marathon JUST RUN Program
I created the Big Sur International Marathon JUST RUN Program – and volunteer 50 hours a week to support it – to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. The web-based initiative assists schools and youth organizations that may have lost physical education funding by offering a free, ongoing, youth fitness program to change children’s lifestyles. JUST RUN not only allows classes to cooperatively accumulate mileage in “virtual runs” that are tracked on the website but also encourages kids to respect each other and help their friends and family members by performing good deeds. Our group of kids this year excelled at both running mileage and good citizenship. We’re very proud of them.
JUST RUN began in 2004 with 400 children in 8 schools in Monterey County, California and has grown every year. By 2010, we were reaching 7,905 children in 93 schools in 17 states and 3 foreign countries. A research-based examination of California School Fitnessgram test scores indicate that children participating in the JUST RUN program in Monterey County showed significant increases in passing scores in aerobic capacity, flexibility, and strength. The program has been approved by the American Heart Association, the National Alliance for Health and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
We hope that schools all over the country look at our website and start a JUST RUN program to encourage their kids to have a healthy lifestyle.