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Youth Run NOLA hosts fourth-annual ‘504K’ run/walk, March 18

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The holidays are officially over. There’s no more Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or Mardi Gras to worry about.
Spring is in the air, which means so are the crawfish, snowballs, and festivals. With spring, the weather hasn’t descended into the depths of fire, and everybody’s out getting being fly and maybe getting fit…maybe…
If you’re part of the latter (the getting fit bunch), then you’ll want to mark your calendars for some running and walking through the city with Youth Run NOLA’s annual 504K on March 18 presented by the St. Thomas Community Health Center to celebrate and promote community health.

Founded in 2010, Youth Run NOLA (YRNOLA) “creates and empowers a community of healthy, young leaders through running,” explained Denali Lander, Executive Director of YRNOLA. “The organization began as a grassroots running club in St. Bernard Parish and has expanded from three partner schools in 2010-2011 to its current 30 partner schools in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard Parish.”
Youth Run NOLA aims to provide “positive, structured after-school engagement” to “combat the obstacles facing our youth – many of whom cope with unsafe, unhealthy, and unsupportive obstacles”. With its intensive 8-month guided training program, not only do students run at Youth Run NOLA, but they also learn and apply life, goal-setting, and leadership skills.
“All kids should have an opportunity for safe, structured, healthy, and fun after-school opportunities regardless of where they live and that’s what Youth Run NOLA provides," Denali explained. “With devastating health disparities, especially those related to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity between lower and higher income neighborhoods, we are helping kids establish healthier physical activity habits for life.”

“Running is the activity we use, but the formation of healthy habits and healthy relationships are always the focus. Experiencing kids coming out of their shell, taking on leadership roles within the organization, having more self confidence in part because of the experiences they’ve had setting goals and then crossing that finish line is incredibly rewarding. We are deeply proud of and grateful for our hundreds of community volunteers who join us at weekend races. We are building an incredibly supportive network for kids to continue to rely on through high school graduation and beyond, and we are helping community members truly get to know some of the cities hardest working and compassionate kids.”
On Saturday, March 18, the community is invited to support Youth Run NOLA and participate in their annual 504K race through the Marigny and Bywater.
“We love the 504K!” smiled Denali. “Throughout the year, we are incredibly grateful for our partnerships with the New Orleans Track Club, Crescent City Classic, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll series that host our runners in their 5k, 10k, and half marathon races. Our 504K is the one race a year that we host ourselves to benefit our young runners. Everyone is welcome: all backgrounds, all athletic abilities, and all neighborhoods of the greater New Orleans area!”
Denali added, “We’ll start the morning off with a bounce workout warm up from Move Ya Brass, take off for the route in Crescent Park, and return to the beautiful park for post-race celebrations. We invite all families and friends, especially those who have never participated in a 5k before, as we celebrate people of all backgrounds taking steps toward a healthier self and a more unified community.”

After the race, you know there’ll be a party! Post-race festival fun includes entertainment by Big Freedia, beverages from Bayou Teche Brewing and Big Easy Bucha, snacks from local vendors.

Denali concluded, “Because running (and walking and jogging) is an accessible sport, we have a non-competitive approach and we only care about putting one foot in front of the other. We are seeing relationships form that defy parish, ward, and neighborhood boundaries. We recruit a diverse group of kids and adults who, despite having many differences, find a shared understanding of and love for one another through the activity of running. We believe that we can build a tighter more unified city through this activity; running is an equalizer.”

WHAT: Youth Run NOLA’s 504K
WHEN: Saturday, March 18 (8:30am-11:30am)
WHERE: Marigny/Bywater

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 March 2017
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