It’s been another great year for the AFH Fit program! AFH Fit encompasses all of the charitable work that AFH members perform in the physical fitness space, including key partners Active Schools, Marathon Kids, and Power Up. This year, there were 132 AFH Fit Visits between these programs. There were 51 visits to 28 different Active Schools, 57 visits to 25 different Marathon Kids clubs, and 24 visits to 3 different Power Up Programs. Forty-six athletes visited AFH Fit programs representing USATF, USA Skiing, Skateboarding, NWSL, NFL, NBA, NHL, WTA, and Softball. The visits took place in 31 different markets ranging from Philadelphia, PA to Phoenix, AZ to Seattle, WA to many more cities in between.
Our AFH U teams were very involved with AFH Fit visits this year. Eight teams from three different schools visited Active Schools, Marathon Kids, or partook in Community Events. In Lansing, Michigan State Field Hockey did twelve Active School visits between two schools and Michigan State Men’s Soccer did nine Active School Visits. In Baton Rouge, LSU Volleyball did six Active School and one Marathon Kids visit and LSU Swim and Dive took part in a Community Event. Also in Baton Rouge, Southern University Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, and SAAC all took part in an AFH Fit visit.
This year, AFH Fit partnered with Marathon Kids for the first time. AFH members engaged with Marathon Kids via in-person visits and online engagements. Many of the in-person visits were running sessions or special events speakers session. Often times, running sessions occurred during recurring visits. For example, Shannon Boxx of the USWNT visited West Tualatin Elementary School three months in a row to host running sessions. The online engagement occurred as a part of the Amplify Austin fundraising campaign. It was spearheaded by Sanya Richards-Ross of USATF visiting the Marathon Kids run-a-thon.
Athletes for Hope intern and professional soccer player for the Boston Breakers, Megan Oyster, visited the kids of Orchard Gardens School chapter of Marathon Kids in Boston last week. Marathon Kids and Athletes for Hope are partnering to help introduce kids to the sport of running. This mission resonated with Megan and she wanted to get involved. Giving back is at Megan’s core and it shows! We sat down with Megan and debriefed with her on her visit this week.
Why you wanted to give back?
Marathon Kids sounded like an awesome program to be a part of. I love how the kids set a goal and go after it and I wanted to be a part of their team and show them that we can all do it together.
What you did at your visit?
I arrived at Orchard Gardens School and met up with Daniel Schultz who was the coach for the Marathon Kids group. He guided me to the classroom where all of the kids were waiting. I introduced myself to the kids and shared some information about my soccer career and why it’s important to take care of your body and eat healthy. They asked me a few questions about soccer, informed me that they eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and even challenged me to a push up contest! After we finished talking it was time to head out and run. I lead the kids in a warm up that I do with my soccer team and then we started running and counting our laps. The kids raced me, we held hands as we ran together, and I cheered them along as we ran around the track area. We finished up our last few laps and then the teacher called us in. We all headed back to the classroom and then counted the sticks they had collected while running and colored in the circles on their Marathon Kids logs. One circle was equivalent to 5 laps so most of them colored in 4 circles! They were all so proud of themselves and overwhelmed with how much they had ran! We finished up the day by taking a group picture and then it was time for me to head home.
We were told the kids improved their laps run while you were there. Tell us about that.
It was the second time running for this group at Orchard Gardens and they informed me that the last time they ran they did 4 laps. I challenged them to beat that score and work really hard while I was there with them. They ended up running an average of 20 laps that day! They were so happy and proud and told me they were going to beat their score again next time!
Do you have to give back again soon? And if so what are your thoughts about causes that interest you?
Yes, I definitely want to give back again soon. I think it’s important to go out and support causes that interest you. There are so many positive results from going out and giving back, especially when it comes to kids. They are so transparent with their emotions. You can see it on their face how much it means to them to have someone there to support them and guide them. I can’t wait to go back again!
Great job, Megan! We can’t wait to see what else you do in the Boston Community. Megan’s work serves as a testament to the power of athlete involvement in communities. We encourage all interested in Marathon Kids, or other volunteer positions, to contact our team for more information. We can’t wait to find the best fit for you.
This September, we put a call out for our member athletes to join us for Athletes for Active Communities Week, a joint initiative between Athletes for Hope, Marathon Kids, and Active Schools to help children become more physically active. This year, we encouraged communities to become more active, particularly children and parents, in working together to make physical activity a daily priority.
This special campaign had two components. An in-person visit and a video challenge. Over 30 athletes visited schools, Marathon Kids location all over the US. Athletes and teams also recorded short videos explaining why physical activity is important. Check out this great campaign video put together by the Boston Breakers.
Thanks to all who participated in person or online. Your efforts will help encourage kids and the communities in which you live to get more active.