On March 20, 2016 I will be running the NYC Half Marathon in solidarity with Free to Run. Free to Run uses running, physical fitness and outdoor adventure as a means of empowering and educating females in conflict-affected communities to overcome the harmful effects of gender, religious and ethnic discrimination. (Amazing right?)
Currently, Free to Run is working in Afghanistan and South Sudan, as well as Hong Kong. Through a network of ambassadors and program participants, Free to Run approaches their mission with sustainability in mind. The programs are lead by the Board of Directors, who are all distinguished in their own right. The leadership team has extensive experience in law, women's rights, journalism, non-profit management, environmental conservation, banking, government advisement and of course the freeing power of sport, running and adventure.
With this knowledge as a base, Free to Run creates the space necessary to engage communities and breakdown gender norms in some of the most stressful regions in the world. Free to Run has a successful record of inititiating and sustaining organized outdoor sports camps, running events, indoor fitness classes as well as sporting clubs within schools. The sporting clubs have had great success and have only improved with the addition of female coaches who were trained with Free to Run's support.
The success of Free to Run's programs has also extended into the realm of life skills and awareness. Addtional work is now done by program participants and ambassadors to provide educational sessions and resources on health, nutrition and reproductive issues. Men and boys are also engaged through discussions revolving around gender equality in sports and the creation of gender mixed sporting events when possible.
Beyond the work on the ground, Free to Run works tirelessly to advocate for female participation in sports at the local, national and international levels. The advocacy work is only further bolstered by research which strives to document the value of sports as a tool for development and for promotion of gender equality.
All of these groundbreaking ventures do require support, support from people like myself and others who are like minded. For this reason I have chosen to run with Free to Run in the NYC Half Marathon. I have commited to do my best to raise money which could help train another female coach, buy running shoes for a group of girls, make repairs to recreational facilities that allow for these women to be active...the possibilities are many, each as important and substantial as the next.
I look forward to continuing my support for Free to Run and its been a pleasure sharing their story with you. If you are able, come cheer us on during the half marathon!