Several growth groups that are based on running and walking have been implemented in various places throughout the nation. One of them is the Running Free Program, whose members are incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility. The program started in 2007 and strives to help female inmates learn to cope with the stressors of life and to ease their transition back to the outside world. Participants of the program had the opportunity to participate in a public health perspective project in 2011. Top ranked benefits of the participation in the program are increased self-esteem, confidence, self-discipline, goal-setting and lowering the overall recidivism rate of the participants. Since the creation of Running Free in 2007, only 1 participant has returned to the prison system out of the approximate 200 that have been released. This is a recidivism rate of 0.5% within the participant population. A similar program has also been launched in January 2012 at the Hiland Mountain Women’s Correctional Center in Alaska as part of a research project to measure the impact of a structured running program on mental health. The data is still preliminary but an overall positive response to the program has been noticed.
The success stories and promising trends on lowering recidivism and decreasing the effects of health compromising behaviors in at risk youth called for a similar intervention/prevention program to be developed, which lead to the creation of Run Free Texas.
After completing our inaugural program, Run Free Texas received the following testimonials:
“Run Free Texas means to me to have a new chance, to show people that I can change! Showing people that I am trying to change the bad image of myself. It is also very fun and awesome to have a second family!” (Youth, 16 years)
“As my child progressed mentally and physically, the progress of Run Free Texas was pretty evident. The mission is amazing, the hearts and dedication of the staff are phenomenal and I am extremely grateful and happy that the time was devoted personally to impacting my child on so many levels. I must say it should be an impact extension in his overall life. My sincere Thanks!” (Parent of participating youth)
“I want to thank you guys for a job well done. I think my child has made progress, the attitude has been better and I feel my child will do good.” (Parent of participating youth).
“Thank you ladies for all y’all have done for my child! I truly believe the program made a big difference in her self value! Thanks” (Parent of participating youth).
“Sometimes, I don’t feel like coming because I am so stressed out with school but I show up. When I am done running I feel better!” (Youth, 17 years)
Excited to announced that Run Free Texas has been awarded the Kids Run The Nation Grant from the Road Runner Club of America.