The need for SRLA is great because of the social and health problems facing today's youth. Teenagers in LA are dropping out of high school, at risk from crime, and increasingly overweight and inactive. SRLA stands out as a solution to these problems by providing teens the opportunity to create life-long habits of running and staying fit, to connect with their teachers and schools and increase their chances of finishing high school, and to be involved in supervised after-school activities.
Students (ages 12-19) train with their teachers for 26 weeks for the ASICS LA Marathon in March. They develop strength and endurance to run longer distances and enter monthly races, building from a 5K to an 18-mile race. They talk with their teachers while they train, about nutrition and techniques, as well as healthy life choices, staying in school, and becoming better people. Completing a marathon gives the students confidence in their ability to overcome any obstacle in their lives.
The 3,200 students participating in SRLA learn discipline, perseverance, and hard work. They learn to set a goal and break it down into small achievable steps, lessons they can apply to their education. Running is a cool alternative to gang participation for teens, and running with SRLA gives them a new peer set, as well as a connection to an adult, their teacher/mentor. The 6 months of regular training introduces them to the benefits and pleasures of physical activity.