RDC Youngers Women’s Project
It’s no secret that the running collective I’m part of, Run Dem Crew, has a massive emphasis on community and helping out younger people. In keeping with that spirit, we recently launched a female focused Youngers project which I’m a mentor on and I’m super excited about it.
We’ve teamed up with a sixth form college and are working with girls aged 16-18 to help them channel their creativity through running and show them how empowering physical activity can be. Around this age, most girls have opted out of PE and often actively avoid exercise. There are so many issues surrounding body image and the perception of women who work out, fear of sweating and other such obstacles that make it difficult to get them enthusiastic about it.
We had a launch event for the project a couple of weeks ago where Fred Butler (superstar designer), Josey Rebelle (superstar DJ) and me spoke to a crowd of around 45 girls who’d come to hear all about RDC Youngers. They were an interested and engaged bunch, but would we actually manage to get any of them to run?
Last week we had our first session and I’m proud to say seven girls came to run with us. Woo hoo! On my way to the college, it was pouring down with rain and I thought this would be a difficult day to persuade young girls to go on their first run. By the time I got there, the rain had developed into a full on hail storm and I thought we stood no chance. So to get seven girls to come and be willing and open to this crazy concept of running – I really had to hold myself back from doing my happy dance.
We took to the streets – it was cold, wet and windy. We ran slowly, making sure no one was left behind, doubling back to run with whoever was at the back of the group if we got too far ahead. There were walk breaks – this is the first time most of these girls have ever attempted running a distance. When all was said and done, we ran 1.2 miles – an excellent achievement for their first time out. More to the point, they all finished with smiles and promised to come back this week.
Their creative task homework last week was to make a running playlist, so I’m looking forward to hearing the sounds that keep them all motivated.
I’m so excited about this project and hope to roll it out to other areas once we finish this one. It’s such an honour to run the first mile with someone and you can’t help but feel that these are the first footsteps to something great.