Marathon Kids: Scaling nationally so more kids can go the distance

This blog is part of a series that highlights the work of our partners. 

Improving the health and physical activity of our youngest generation: This is the issue Marathon Kids, an Austin-grown nonprofit, has been tackling for the last 20 years. By promoting daily physical activity, along with healthy eating, the organization works to boost confidence and health by putting younger generations on the path to a lifetime of wellness.

But how do you reach more kids, affect more lives and help more families across the country improve their health?  Marathon Kids seems to have found the perfect formula: Partner an evidence based program (Marathon Kids) with the marketing power of a multinational corporation (Nike).  The effect of this partnership, which was announced last week, is that the program, which previously served Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, Baltimore and Los Angeles, plus seven small Texas towns, will now expand to 15 additional cities including Chicago, New York City and Miami in the coming year.  That means they will begin to reach over half a million kids across the country in the next two years.

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Every kid can run: The model for success

The new program model supports the idea that children need 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, an amount that most kids have not been getting in recent years. In partnership with Nike, students of all physical activity levels are encouraged to walk or run at their own pace and quickly learn that they can go farther than they ever thought possible.  In the last year, more than a quarter of a million kids aged four to 12 completed the program, running 26.2 miles incrementally over the course of several months. With the new model, students set a goal to run four marathons (104.8 miles) over the course of the running season or school year to maximize their daily physical activity.

And here’s why it matters.  Being active is associated with kids who:

  • Work and play better.
  • Score up to 40% higher on tests.
  • Are 15% more likely to go to college.
  • Have increased concentration, better school attendance and behavior, healthier eating habits and a stronger sense of self than inactive kids.

Marathon Kids seems to have found the perfect formula: Partner an evidence based program (Marathon Kids) with the marketing power of a multinational corporation (Nike).

Running full speed ahead

The growth of Marathon Kids shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The partnership with Nike is a move that will allow them to continue to improve and scale their program nationally. It is a mutually beneficial partnership as Marathon Kids will introduce Nike to the programming aspect of physical activity, while Nike’s immense capacity for marketing, outreach and high-quality products will help Marathon Kids reach more families.

Both Marathon Kids and Nike share the mission to end the current physical inactivity epidemic.  And just as physical inactivity can lead to serious consequences, an active lifestyle early in life has profound effects on overall health and longevity. So the real winners of this partnership are the kids, nationwide, who will have access to improved physical activity and better long-term health.  More and more kids will have the support to get out there and just do it.


Other posts in this series:

Education Cities: Redefining what’s possible in education