By: Joshua Moore
I currently am employed with a wonderful non-profit organization called Chicago Run. Chicago Run works to promote health and wellness across Chicago through the implementation of youth running programs. We are currently located in 44 Chicago Public Schools. My job as a Chicago Run Coach is to work as a liaison between our company and the schools that we serve as well as coach and mentor the children that I work with. I initially decided to join this great program because it matched my current skill set as a former college athlete and it also gave me the opportunity to give back to my city in some capacity. My tenure with Chicago Run thus far has been filled with its share of ups and downs. I’ll start with the downs.
The majority of my schools are stationed on the south side of the city, which is where I was born and raised. The state of a lot of the schools and the mindset of a lot of the people within the schools needs serious adjustment. At the start of my school visits in September, mainly with running mates and a portion of my Chicago Run schools, I noticed a good amount of the students I coach have a collective mindset of passivity and a general contentment with mediocrity and laziness. Potential oozes out of many of them, but this is deferred by excuses as to why they CAN’T and how HARD something is, which is extremely frustrating to deal with. Even more upsetting are the adults. I don’t know what’s worse; a child that accepts complacency or some of the teachers, parents, and other adults who condone this behavior. It’s almost as if a lot of the adults have given up on them already. I had an instance while we were at one of the schools where a child had left their coat outside. Attempting to return it, I decided to alert one of the teachers about this. The teacher replied, “Just throw it away.” This particular instance was one of many I witnessed while at these schools that show a blatant lack of regard for our youth.
Now, for the positive. I think all of the good can be explained through my experience at Pumpkins in the Park. There is no greater feeling in the world (and I mean the WORLD) than to see someone you work with accomplish their goals. It brought me great joy to see my running mates kids having the time of their lives, coming up to me telling me their times, asking when the next race was, and even the thank you’s I received from them. It’s also a blessing to have kids who you initially thought were hard to reach be excited to see you during the day and to be excited about running. I’ve even seen some of my kids in both running mates and my Chicago run schools tell me that they wanted to run just like me. To sum all of this up, you never know who is watching you. Often, you are the only light to these children with bleak outlooks. Shine as bright as possible and live to inspire with every moment you have because you never know who’s watching.