Founded in late 2007 to aid in the fight against childhood obesity, Chicago Run’s mission is to promote the health and wellness of Chicago children through innovative, engaging, and sustainable youth running programs. Over the past 9 years, Chicago Run has experienced significant growth in its programs due to the demand for physical activity programs and the decreased funding available for sports programs in Chicago. In the 2016-2017 school year,Chicago Run served over 17,000 students in 44 Chicago Public Schools in 30 diverse neighborhoods across the city. 84% of Chicago Run participants qualify for the federal/free reduced lunch program and have limited opportunities for physical activity and play.
Chicago Run offers four free running and fitness programs which seek to increase physical activity, build leadership skills, break down cultural barriers, and promote social emotional learning. The Chicago Runners program is designed to instill the daily habit of physical activity for students in Kindergarten through 4th grade, by implementing activity breaks during the school day, 3-5 times a week for at least 15 minutes. The Little Strides program was created specifically for early childhood classrooms and uses games and activities during the school day to excite young children about exercise and help develop gross motor skills. Running Mates is an after-school program designed to prepare middle school students to run in a local 5k race, while promoting social inclusion and cross-community collaboration. The L.A.C.E. (Leadership,Action, Community, Endurance) Up! program is offered to Chicago Run students who were previously involved in Chicago Runners or Running Mates and are now in high school; this program gives them the opportunity to build leadership, mentoring, coaching, and career-readiness skills.
As Chicago Run embarks on their 10th Anniversary Year, they have launched an aggressive growth plan, called Chicago Run 2.0, aiming to double their impact and serve more than 30,000children over the next 5 years. Chicago Run seeks to increase the reach of their current programs within Chicagoland schools, as well as expand their influence to community groups and immigrant and refugee populations. Through this growth plan, Chicago Run continues to strive towards their vision of enhancing the health and well-being of every child in Chicago through running.