Santa Clarita Track Club's Students Off And Running (SOAR) helps youth at risk living in Santa Clarita build life skills and establish healthy relationships with peers and adults through training for and competing in a Marathon.
Santa Clarita Track Club's Students Off And Running (SOAR) aspires to be an after school program available to all schools throughout the Santa Clarita Valley that uses the vehicle of marathon training to empower students and provide them with tools for a healthy and constructive future.
The ultimate goal of SOAR is for students to participate in a truly life changing event: running a marathon. Beyond achieving a fitness challenge few can aspire to, students walk away from the program with a lifetime of lessons. In addition to increasing physical fitness and activity, students gain knowledge about health and nutrition, see alternatives to risky behavior, increase self-esteem, build resiliency to current and future obstacles, learn how to set and achieve goals, and develop positive peer and adult relationships. Students also gain the potential to translate their remarkable accomplishment into improved school performance and academic success. Seeing the fruits of their hard work upon crossing the finish line will provide SOAR students with the confidence they need to succeed both in and outside the classroom.
SOAR establishes running groups at participating schools and implements a seven month training program. Each running group operates under the guidance of volunteer adult Coaches who role model commitment and perseverance by training mile for mile with student participants in preparation for the marathon. Coaches may be teachers, school staff or community members and need not have prior running experience. Running groups maintain a 6:1 student-Coach ratio allowing for valuable one-on-one adult-student interaction. Weekly goals are set in a non-competitive environment that stresses endurance building as opposed to speed. Starting with one mile the first week participants gradually run additional miles each week until they are prepared to take on the 26.2 mile course. During training, Coaches emphasize messages about nutrition, exercise, conditioning, injury prevention and general well-being. Coaches also use this time to mentor students and create a supportive environment where students can talk about personal, family and academic challenges and develop the confidence to apply themselves and overcome those challenges.