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On Sept. 27, Paul Goren, Superintendent of School District 65, joined Walker Elementary School’s dynamic Boys Running Strong (BRS) afterschool program as a guest runner. BRS promotes positive thinking, encourages healthy behaviors for physical and emotional well-being, and helps students set and reach personal goals. Founded in 2014, by Kelly Oldfield and Laura Rouse, both teachers of Walker Elementary School, BRS was the first program of its kind in District 65, an Evanston/Skokie school district. Currently other schools in the district have begun to emulate the program.

“I love the Boys Running Strong and Girls Running Strong programs,” commented Dr. Goren, Evanston/Skokie District 65 Superintendent. “It is fantastic to see how the kids engage in running and then reflecting as a group in ways that help build resilience and their social and emotional skills.”

In addition to teaching running and physical fitness, Boys Running Strong’s teacher-team—Laura Rouse, Freda Wood-Livingston, and Kelly Oldfield—create lessons and activities around each session that focus on the social and emotional health of the boys participating in the program, utilizing Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) data and the specific needs of the boys. 

Boys Running Strong is also deeply committed to eliminating racial predictability and inequalities in achievement. The program honors the strengths and assets of every student no matter their ethnic or socioeconomic background.  Family members—mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers—are encouraged to be active participants and supporters.