Stephen Bonnett via Crowdrise
October 16, 2013
EVENT DATE: Nov 03, 2013
I am running the New York City marathon, this November 3rd, to raise funds for BronxWorks.
My job is teaching 11th graders in the Bronx the skills and knowledge they will need to have meaningful opportunities to lead satisfying, successful lives. The obstacles they face outside of school often jeopardize that goal. When one of my students gets evicted from his home, he can’t concentrate on learning. When a student can’t afford to eat anything all day except what’s in the cafeteria, she can’t concentrate on learning. And when students see parents and siblings express frustration by erupting in verbal abuse and violence and respond in the same way to frustrations at school, neither they nor their peers, in those moments, can concentrate on learning. Clearly, I can’t ignore my students' challenges outside of school.
I started to run as a way to escape the stress of encountering these problems. One Friday in May of my first year teaching, after a long week, I was feeling overwhelmed by my students’ barriers to learning. I wanted to run away. So I did. Despite never having run longer than a few blocks in my life, I left my wallet and phone at home, and with only my keys ran until I exhausted myself. Once I returned home and mapped my route, I discovered that I’d gone over five miles. And I was hooked.
Recently, I’ve found a way to use the running I now have a passion for to actually help solve the problems that so often hold my students back - by running the marathon for BronxWorks.
Founded over 40 years ago, Bronxworks has helped feed, shelter, teach, and support Bronx residents throughout their lives. They are so comprehensive that every need I am aware of that keeps my students from being able to excel in school can be addressed through a BronxWorks program. A quick summary of their recent successes is here: http://www.bronxworks.org/accomplishments.
The money raised from this campaign will support our programs for children and youth in the South Bronx, one of the nation's poorest congressional districts. This includes:
--After-school programs and summer day camps for low-income families, benefiting both kids and working parents
--Programs to help teens successfully negotiate the challenges of adolescence and the transition to high school
--Academic tutoring and college prep to give Bronx youth access to the benefits of higher education for a brighter future
--Recreation and educational programs for children living in our shelters for homeless families such as swimming lessons, trips to museums and parks, and books of their own to read
I want my students have all the knowledge and skills they need to have real opportunities in their lives. But as I’ve learned in my first two years in the classroom, I can’t do it alone. If we want all our children to have a fair shot, we must work to fill gaps that exist outside school walls. The organization I've found to have both the track record and breadth of focus to credibly claim to meet that challenge is BronxWorks. So please, help me run my first marathon, and help BronxWorks give my students - and other Bronx young people just like my students - an equal chance to thrive.