Ready, Set, Run! program well-received by families at Redwood City (Calif.)


The Redwood City (Calif.) Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department offers local families a wealth of youth sports and activities to select from. Whether a child is interested in soccer, tennis or fencing, there is an activity fit for everyone. Still, Erin Niemeyer, recreation coordinator, was looking to fill a need parents had for an activity that would increase their children’s overall fitness level and address important topics like confidence and teamwork.
While the department was eager to sign on as a pilot site to host Ready, Set, Run!, the latest youth development program by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), Niemeyer wasn’t sure how many children would sign up.
“Honestly, I had no idea how our community would respond with so many spring sports already in progress,” said Niemeyer. “But we had overwhelming positive response to this program!” Fifty-four youngsters took part in the pilot program, which has now been officially launched and is available for any youth-based programs across the country and on military bases worldwide to run.
Ready, Set, Run! is a unique youth running program that prepares children ages 8-13 to complete a 5k in 12 weeks. While they build endurance and stamina through play-based activities, the children also go through character development curriculum that equips them with the goal-setting mentality that will help them throughout life. Other topics covered include enhancing confidence and self-esteem, respecting authority, dealing with peer pressure and fueling their bodies with proper nutrition.
The Redwood City Parks and Recreation Department is a 2011 Spotlight Award Nominee, as it was recognized by the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for their efforts to positively impact the physical activity, fitness and well-being of California's children and youth.
According to Ron Talain, a Ready, Set, Run! coach at Redwood City the children showed definite progression in their physical ability and desire to improve throughout the program.
“We had this tough loop that we would run in the park and in the beginning I would have to convince them to run it,” he said. “By the end, they were asking if there was enough time to run the loop again.”
“We will definitely offer Ready, Set, Run! in the future,” said Niemeyer. “Over the 12 weeks, participants can not only see their fitness levels improve, but meet new friends, build confidence and work toward a common goal.”
Niemeyer is hopeful that there will be opportunities to offer the program again in the fall, as well as next spring.
“It was great being a pilot site because we found this program to be innovative, fun and much needed in our community,” she added.
Click HERE for more information about starting Ready, Set, Run! in your community and to review sample lessons from the Coordinator and Coach manuals, or email

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