The Newton Schools Foundation is hosting a free running clinic this Saturday, March 31 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Newton North Track and Field. All families, ages 8 and up, are encouraged to attend, but should wear proper clothing and footwear for athletic activity.
The running clinic will take place to help kids, teens, and novice runners to get ready for the Heartbreak Hill Road Race on Sunday, April 15. A recent Newton South High School graduate, Leo Westebbe, and Charles d’Hemecourt of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston will be joined by other local running experts to demonstrate proper stretching, drills, and techniques. They will also be discussing nutrition and take a practice run around the Newton North Track facility.
Leo participated in the Dreamfar High School Marathon program during his junior year at Newton South in order to bring him out of a depression. Dreamfar is New England’s first high school marathon training program that teaches at-risk high school students that anything is possible, even something like completing a marathon. The program works to teach students the value of commitment and teamwork, along with realistic goal-setting skills.
“I was feeling depressed and failing some classes. I got to the point where I basically did no school work because I just didn’t think I could,” Westebbe said after discussing having a rough middle school experience and a rocky start to high school.
“The idea of me running a marathon sounded kind of crazy. I never thought of myself as athetlic.”
Through the program, Westebbe says he really learned a lot about himself. His academic grades got better, he lot weight, made new friends, and gained self-confidence. Now a freshman at Clark University, Westebbe is looking to give back to the community that helped him come so far. He will be running the Boston Marathon on April 16 to raise a goal of $6,000 to support the Newton Schools Foundation.
“I’m happy to be running for the Newton schools. For a kid like me who really struggled emotionally and academically, not every school system would have been so supportive. Newton schools really don’t give up on people,” Leo stated.
The Newton Schools Foundation’s mission is to enhance and broaden community support for public education, as well as provide private funding for enhancement, innovation, and challenging programs across K-12 grades in the Newton Public Schools.
Leo said, “I believe people can achieve almost anything. All it takes is believing you can do something and reaching out to people who can help you – having a team of people who support you is really important.”
To register for the running clinic on Saturday, March 31, visit the sign up page on the Newton School Foundation website. You may also donate towards Leo’s fundraiser goal for the Boston Marathon. Run, Leo, Run!
The author is a Nutrition Examiner for Boston. You can view more of her articles here.