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HKRS was founded by Jeff Long in 2009. 
HKRS was founded by Jeff Long in 2009. Photo: Healthy Kids Running Series

Healthy Kids Running Series to resume this Spring in Philly at the Navy Yard

After a difficult year of virtual running, the youth organization is back in a new locale.

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Jeff Long, Founder and President of Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS), has always been a devoted athlete.

As rates of childhood obesity began increasing in 2009, Long became determined to create a fun and exciting program to give children the chance to be active, make friends, and embark on a healthy lifestyle. 

His idea spawned the Healthy Kids Running Series and has led the organization to expand to over 39 states, where more children are getting out and playing.

One of its primary cities is Philadelphia, which has many locations dedicated to getting youth out and more active.

Now, as the weather gets warmer and summer break approaches, HKRS is gearing up to launch its running marathons and conducting outreach to parents to get their kids involved.

“I was familiar with the program because my son started running in it when he was three,” Melissa Rose Wyatt, the Philadelphia coordinator for HKRS said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News. “The previous coordinator had to step down, so I took over.”

Wyatt said it’s rewarding to see kids make new friends and run together, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nonprofit, which previously ran its marathons at FDR park, were in limbo thanks to the Flower Show, and had to find another space to take participating children.

Now, in 2021, HKRS will be running their marathons at the Navy Yard, which is a brand new location for the organization. Despite the new setting, leaders are excited to have a completely new and unique running map.

That’s been the story ever since COVID-19 came to town last March.

In the Spring of 2020, the organization had to relocate virtually, which was very challenging and less than ideal for participating kids. Before 2021, the last HKRS run was in the Fall of 2019.

“Our first race since the pandemic was on April 18, the kids are loving it, even the two year olds are getting in on the fun,” said Wyatt.

The five-race program has 187 children and takes those who are two to 14 years old.

Their next race will be held on May 16, at the Navy Yard.

Those that volunteer to help the children are becoming mentors to them, and are also creating unique, unbreakable bonds together.

“There are children who started the program at two-years-old, and they are now in middle school, and still in the program,” said Wyatt.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, children and parents are looking for normalcy, and HKRS hopes to be a provider to ease children back to pre-pandemic times.

Running is also seen to have many benefits, one being an effective bridge to get kids involved in sports.

Wyatt named soccer and basketball as the most popular.

“We track their times and reward them,” she said.

To get your children involved in Healthy Kids Running Series, check out their website and get your kids signed up!

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