Helping the Homeless: RunningWorks Teaches Life Skills Through Running
Homelessness poses a challenge to every city in America. There are many programs that use shelters, soup kitchens and job placement to help people get back on their feet, but a group in Charlotte, North Carolina is trying a more unconventional method: running.
We recently heard about this story on NPR's All Things Considered broadcast and thought it was worth sharing. The program, called RunningWorks, encourages the homeless to take at least four running classes in exchange for a free pair of shoes. That was enough motivation for many people to join, and the camaraderie and fellowship that followed helped them stick with the program.
Along with running, participants learn goal-setting, self-respect and other valuable skills. "I run with homeless people, then we do a life skill afterwards, whether it be discipline, confidence, anger management," says RunningWorks founder Meredith Dolhare. "It's amazing the steps that they will take to better their lives."
Most of the attendees run together three times a week and compete in 5k or 10k races, although some take it further. One example is Matthew Hoffman, who trained enough to finish a 50k ultramarathon. Although Hoffman had difficulty finding and keeping jobs in the past, his running training caused something to click. He began applying for jobs again and is now happily employed.
For more information or to support this incredible program, we encourage you to visit the RunningWorks website.