Sunday, 15 July 2007

Cool Runnings, v1

They say that if you can run a marathon, that you can accomplish anything. For most who have been through this process, the 42.2Km on raceday is the culmination of months of training, hard work, discipline, mental toughness, and healthy living. If it is your first time, the program is nothing short of a transformational process whose positive lifestyle benefits should not be underestimated.

So why am I doing this?

Well, at first it started out as simply the opportunity to join some cool people on a trip to Jamaica and to help out a wonderful organization in leading some well-deserved underprivelged youth through their race. I never once thought I'd actually enjoy running myself. But then I started doing it, and now I can't stop! Hardly a burden, workouts have become an essential part of my day no less important than showering (yes, they both occur frequently:-) I haven't been in this good shape since highschool, my energy levels are way up, I'm getting great sleeps, and my performance in most other aspects of life has shot up too. In wanting to assist some inner city youth at the end of their journey, I've suddenly found my own life to be serendipitously transformed as well ... and it's not as if I was all that sluggish/unproductive to begin with!

So who are these youth?

Through absolutely no fault of their own, much of the youth in the North Central part of Regina (Saskatchewan) have been born into some of the lowest socioeconomic conditions there is. Yet there is always hope. Victims of a seemingly failed society, most of them remain kind-hearted individuals simply working hard to do something for themselves. What they need above all else is opportunity, and a little bit of support and positive role models in their quest to become responsible citizens. In recent years, much of this has come from the North Central Family Centre (NCFC) - a truly remarkable initiative providing services with the following mission: To provide programs and support to help young men and women become productive members of society as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Frequently aknowledged as a model for an inner city community organization - NCFC has one several awards and has received endless praise from business leaders, private citizens, law enforcement and politicians from all stripes including Stephane Dion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and many other prominant figures.

So how does a grad student from Toronto fit into this picture?

As you might have guessed, as part of their programming, NCFC has been guiding teenagers and young adults through the marathon training process and are arranging a number of races for them to participate in. Last year's race in Las Vegas was wildly successful and a documentary on their efforts will soon air on one of the major networks. For this year the goal we are all working towards is the December 01st International Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica. While I am training on my own time in Toronto, I am delighted to be connected to this organization and will be joining their staff/volunteers on site in Negril during race week. You can expect to hear much more about this in the months to come as I will be posting regular updates chronicaling the rest of my own training, how the kids are doing in Regina, as many other aspects of why this initiative is just so damn cool!

"They do a tremendous job of reaching out to kids, giving them a positive thing
to do in terms of arts and crafts, music or sports."
- Warren McDall, MLA Regina Elphinstone Centre

"It's a place where youth can find positive activities, learn important skills
and be safe."
- Cal Johnston, Chief of Police, Regina