10 Jun USA Track & Field Foundation Grant impacts Chicago high school students
INDIANAPOLIS – When the USA Track & Field Foundation’s youth committee reviewed the grant application from the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA), they immediately knew they had to help. CARA’s mission was a perfect fit for the Foundation’s goal of providing opportunities for athletes to compete in track & field.
The Chicago Area Runners Association is an inner-city Chicago based program that brings the sport of running to high school students that would not otherwise have the opportunity. This year CARA has 150 confirmed students that will participate with another 70 soon to take part. These teenagers range from the ages of 15 – 19, and for most this will be their first introduction to the sport of running.
CARA goes above and beyond to reach high school students across the Chicago area, but the majority reside on the Southwest side of Chicago. There are eight partner schools as well as a few YMCAs that the program pulls the developing athletes from. Realizing that the students have different levels of ability, the program ensures some training groups walk as well as run to establish confidence and interest. CARA believes it is of the utmost importance that students adopt an active lifestyle and learn goal settings lessons.
The season is off and running for CARA as the students began training two weeks ago. One of the largest challenges facing CARA however is the logistics of transporting the teenagers to the training location. CARA funds five buses to go around to the various schools to make sure each child has a chance to participate. The organization provides weekend runs on Saturdays and works with schools in hopes to have mid-week runs as well.
This year CARA is expanding their goals for the students, asking them to participate in a new race, The 4th Annual Disco Dash in Chicago. This race will also serve as training for the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon that the students of CARA will participate in on July 20. These races in downtown Chicago are a grand experience as some of the students have never seen Lake Michigan—and some haven’t had the opportunity to even leave their neighborhood. CARA and the USATF Foundation are giving them that chance.
With so much on their plate, CARA was grateful to the USATF Foundation for grants received the past two years. “These grant help us provide all the services, materials, race registrations fees, food and transportation at no cost to the schools or the students,” noted Wendy Jaehn, Executive Director. “The Foundation’s grant equates to helping to cover the cost of 60 half marathon race entries for the students.”
The USA Track & Field Foundation awarded 29 grants last week to Youth Track & Field clubs across the country totaling $46,400. For more information on The Chicago Area Runners Association, visit www.cararuns.org.