Many life lessons are learned through sport and the positive impact of multi-sport and endurance sports on young athletes goes far beyond physical fitness.
Exposing children to multi-sport and endurance sports early in life has the potential to create healthy habits for life. To benefit from the value of multisport, young people must have the opportunity to participate and, unfortunately, barriers such as transport and cost can limit the possibility of accessing multisport.
The Live Red Foundation in Richmond, Virginia is working to change that.
Over 15 years ago, triathlete Michael Harlow started a youth triathlon training program called Endorphin Fitness, aimed at introducing multisport to kids. The program started with the youth triathlon and has now grown to include training and training for children, adults and all types of athletes.
Despite the growth, Harlow noticed that only a certain demographic was consistently able to participate in the program – those who could afford it.
In 2018, Harlow saw a need in his community for inner-city kids to have access to life-changing programs through multisport.
Using data from diversitydatakids.org, he identified that there were 22 neighborhoods in his community where the Child Opportunity Index score was below 10 in a range of up to 100.
In an effort to reach these 22 neighborhoods, Harlow founded the Live Red Foundation.
“I saw the impact we had with kids in sports, not just making them fast or physically fit, but what it did for their lives. It taught them vital skills,” Harlow said. .
Live Red offers free fitness programs that teach eight basic skills to kids in Richmond’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Working in tandem with physical training, children are exposed to lessons for eight weeks, where each lesson focuses on one of the core values: goal setting, empathy, self-confidence, mindfulness, self-control. , positive risk taking, resilience and honesty. .
At the end of eight weeks, children have the opportunity to participate in an endurance test to experience the sensation of crossing a finish line.
“It really opens their eyes to what they’re capable of and that’s how we teach them those life skills,” Harlow said. “We want every child to believe they can. The goal is to give these kids the confidence to tackle other things in life.
Triathlon is central to the creation of the organization and the passion behind the organization. Therefore, in order to remove cost as a barrier and provide these programs for free, Live Red is funded through a series of races. They have hosted 15 different youth-focused running and multi-sport events, including the RVA Splash and Dash events as well as the East Coast Triathlon Festival.
Live Red’s objective is to be present in the 22 neighborhoods identified by the end of 2022 and to reach more than 9,000 children.
“It’s about teaching kids something great that they didn’t know was possible. I think that’s what triathlon does – it teaches people to be better in all other areas of their lives,” Harlow said. “Live Red was born out of a motto that we had an Endorphin Fitness, which was ‘Be more, live the red’. The whole idea behind it is to pursue the sport with all you have, try to be the best you can be, then better than you were the day before and apply it to the rest of your life.
Throughout May, USA Triathlon is celebrating its “You Buy, We Give” campaign to introduce young people across the country to the multi-sport lifestyle. For all USA Triathlon adult annual memberships renewed or purchased in May, USA Triathlon will provide a youth membership to a child in need. Renew your membership today.