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Leipsic Community Center Hosts 5K & 4 Courses for Kids

The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio invests in the Leipsic Community Center's 5K & 4 Courses program for underprivileged youth to live a healthier lifestyle.
The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio invests in the Leipsic Community Center's 5K & 4 Courses program for underprivileged youth to live a healthier lifestyle.

CINCINNATI (November 1, 2018) - Imagine waking up early each morning and going to work all day, only to come home to an empty house with no food for dinner. Now imagine living that way as a child going to school. According to local business owners and members of the community, most of the youth in Leipsic, Ohio, hang out on the streets after school or go home to an empty house while their parents/guardians are at work. Many families can’t afford after-school programs, like sports teams or music lessons, leaving them no choice but to allow their children to stay at home alone.

Seeing a need in the community, the Leipsic Community Center developed the 5K & 4 Courses program to address the need for a local, health-oriented, productive after-school program that is free for underprivileged youth in the Leipsic community. 

​The lives of 14 Leipsic youth, in grades 6-12, were changed when they had the opportunity to participate in the 5K & 4 Courses program, which would teach them how to set goals, work hard, and live a healthier lifestyle. The program focuses on training children to run a 5K race while also teaching them healthy eating habits, cooking methods, and the importance of good nutrition.

Before the 5K & 4 Courses program, many of the participating youth had low self-esteem because of their background or socioeconomic status, and some were known to argue or fight in school. Two girls in particular brought their dislike for one another into the program, which was quickly recognized by staff. The girls received a pep talk about the importance of getting past their differences and how to support and encourage one another. A friendship between the two eventually formed. They began running together and offering each other words of encouragement during class, which was a significant milestone. 

The program also taught the kids how to prepare and serve a four-course meal for themselves and their families. Several of the kids had never even held a knife before their first healthy cooking class. Over time, the children became knowledgeable and productive in the kitchen, learned how to read a recipe, and how to properly chop fruits and vegetables. By the end of the class, all of the kids felt comfortable in the kitchen. 

Funding for this program, provided by The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, was used to provide healthy snacks for kids each day, pay for their 5K race registration, provide incentives for kids that showed leadership qualities with other participants and promote the program to families in the community. 

In addition, a local running club, the Ottawa-Glandorf Run Club, donated running shoes for the kids in the program. Club members were so moved by the 5K & 4 Courses program that they also donated their time to come in and speak with the kids about why they run and what encourages them to continue running. They frequently ran with the kids, too. According to Kristen Pickens, director at the Leispic Community Center, “What turned out as a need to get the kids running shoes, turned into a wonderful partnership.” 
After spending eight weeks in the program, the kids were empowered to believe in themselves and learned the value in working together as a team with their classmates. Not only did the 5K & 4 Courses program reap a 53 percent increase in exercising habits among the 14 children, it also saw an 18 percent increase in those who considered themselves happier. 

The 5K & 4 Courses program has been noticed by other counties and has inspired them to adopt similar programs in their local community centers. Additionally, participants shared their experiences with friends and families. At the first program’s completion, the Leipsic Community Center’s 5K & 4 Courses program has reached far more than just 14 people. 

To learn more about the program and Leipsic Community Center, visit www.theleipsiccenter.org




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