Underprivileged kids find purpose in marathon running

Volunteers help to popularise competitive running
Last Updated : 24 May 2013, 19:27 IST
Last Updated : 24 May 2013, 19:27 IST

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Cricket may be the sport of choice for aspiring young athletes across the City, but for a group of less-privileged kids, marathon running offers all the predominant benefits and thrills of competitive sport.

The children, many of whom are aged as young as eight, come from an assortment of special organisations, schools and care centres, all of which express a mission to rehabilitate troubled children and help them get back on their feet, both physically and academically.

 The children, who have staked their hopes and energies into the field of marathon running, originate from seven institutions.

There is the Ananya Trust, a learning centre that works with children who have dropped out of mainstream schooling; the Sneha Care Home,a residential facility for HIV-positive children; the Thayi Mane, a home for orphaned children or victims of abuse; the Sita School, an institute which uses alternative educational methods to encourage children to learn at their own pace; the Spastics Society of Karnataka, the Shristi Special Academy, a school which works to empower physically and mentally disadvantaged individuals and Asha, an organisation involved in raising funds for the education of underprivileged and disadvantaged children.

At the core of the marathon is the training offered by Runners High, a community of runners helmed by 33-year-old Santhosh Padmanabhan.

Running community

Started in March 2009, the community, comprising of 15 coaches, two physiotherapists and twelve volunteers, has been training children from less-privileged backgrounds in running and physical activity.

 “After college, I was on track to become a VLSI engineer in a leading microprocessor company,” Padmanabhan explained. “Slowly, I realised that sort of work did not inspire me anymore. Instead, I found myself passionate about running and interacting with children. The Runner’s High, a social enterprise, reflects my true passion and ambition.”

The volunteers and staff of Runners High also work with Thulir, an Education Resource Centre for children and young adults, located at Sittilingi, a tribal village in Dharmapuri.
Members go to the above schools thrice in a week and train the children through out the day for free.

They also encourage them to participate in 10km races, half marathons, Chennai and Bangalore ultra-marathons, the Sunfeast 10k,  and State-level special Olympics. Recently, the Runners High managed to get children from the seven schools to participate in the TCS World 10K Bangalore Run.

Self-sustained operations

The organisation also trains adults on weekends and during early morning sessions on weekdays by charging a fee through which it funds and sustains itself. 

At the current time, the staff from Runners High is gearing up for its much-anticipated ‘Ananda Yana’, a run to be held on June 2.

The event will raise funds to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds and will have three categories: 4k, 6k and 10k marathons.

The races are open to runners of all ages, and can be entered by paying a Rs 250 registration fee.

The funds collected through registration will be donated to the Ananya Trust, the Sneha Care Home and the Thayi Mane. Online registrations for the are open till May 26.
Those interested can register at: http://www.anandayana.runnershigh.in
DH News Service

Published 24 May 2013, 19:27 IST

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