“Nothing comes in the way of their running”

Children of Global Pathways School train morning and evening to be ready for the mini marathon   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

At the Global Pathways School at Chettipalayam, 100 students ages ranging from seven to 17 are running like they have never run before! They are preparing for ‘CRI Pumps’ Run for Nation Independence Day Mini-Marathon’ on August 5th in aid of the Coimbatore Sports and Education Foundation. Mentoring them is Umaiyahl Nageswaran, a Tamil-Canadian, second-year Biology Major studying at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. She is here is doing her community development internship at the school.

“My job has been to update existing health records and develop leadership and peer mentorship programs for the school,”says Nageswaran who is a LORAN Scholar. (The Loran Award is given to 33 graduating students across Canada based on their character, service and leadership potential.) She believes that running is a great way to foster leadership qualities in children as much of it is about personal growth and development.

The dynamics of running

“Not only is it an individual activity where your performance is entirely upon you rather than the dynamic and cooperative performance of your teammates, but it is also the most fun when done in a group. It is a chance for kids to socialize and create a larger community while also gaining confidence in themselves and their own abilities. Setting immediate goals and accomplishing them is incredibly rewarding.” The response of the kids has been overwhelming, says Nageswaran. “Nothing comes in the way of their running. Not their uniform that are not designed for a comfortable run, not the blazing sun, nor rain. They have shown resilience, grit and dedication and tremendous enthusiasm - all leadership qualities. We put down some ground rules. To participate in the marathon the students had to run or walk with me at least twice a week. We ran Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after school. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’d run before school. And we ran an extra Saturday session to help everyone out.”

Children of Global Pathways School practise for the mini marathon

Children of Global Pathways School practise for the mini marathon   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The running fever caught on with two other GPS Volunteers, Jillian Lamb a varsity Cross Country athlete and Gabriel Ghiglione also a professional runner. While they ran, a bunch of kids began to run along with them. When Nageswaran arrived, the kids were already introduced to running.

A life skill

“One of the goals we’ve got for this group is for it to be self-sustained so that it’s not visiting volunteers that are the lifeline of the group. And I wanted them to know that running is a great way for people to blow off steam, stay healthy, and foster a community. We’re showing these kids that this is an option open to them and hope that it could be something they continue into their adult lives.”

Nageswaran hopes the running habit continues with the children. “By doing something as simple as going for a run, these kids are breaking stereotypes and changing the way things are done. They're taking control and living healthy, active, lives and especially for the girls, who feel safe doing so, too. They're rewriting the rule book.”

The interns have set up a fundraising page to fund the registration costs and such for the children and there has been a heartening response. Says Nageswaran, “We are ecstatic, and this is great for the future of the running program. With the extra funds, we can sponsor our runners to participate in the Coimbatore Marathon, as they are very keen to keep on going on!”

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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 6:11:45 PM |

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