Let Me Run program focuses on boys' fitness, emotional health

Informational meeting is Jan. 23 at Iowa City Public Library

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IOWA CITY — Each season, Charity Nebbe has coached Girls on the Run, a life skills and running program for girls ages 8 through 13, she’s had boys ask why they can’t join.

“I’ve never had a good reason for them,” said Nebbe, host of Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa and an Iowa City mother of Audrey, 11, and Carter, 9. “I have loved seeing these girls (in Girls on the Run) grow in confidence and gain social skills and get physically stronger. I would love to see that opportunity for boys, too.”

Nebbe is holding a meeting from 7-8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., to provide information about Let Me Run, a seven-week program for preteen and teen boys that focuses on wellness and well-being, including respect, positive competition and expression of ideas and feelings — all while training for a 5K run.

Nebbe is looking for 10 schools in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids or the surrounding area to commit to having a team in the fall. Coaches would be trained in April.

Let Me Run is a nonprofit started in Charlotte, N.C., in 2009 by Ashley Armistead, a mother of two boys and a Girls on the Run coach.

Armistead was bothered by the messages sent to boys and men that they should always be tough, stoic and in control of their emotions.

What William Pollack describes as the “Boy Code” in his book “Real Boys” can lead to an inability to show emotions that eventually can cause stress, sickness, decreased learning potential or addiction, according to the Let Me Run website — letmerun.org.

Boys and men have higher rates of suicide than girls and women and boys are more likely to drop out of high school than their female classmates.

Nebbe has seen the Boy Code in action, both as a mom and a sister.

“I had two older brothers who were really nice, sensitive, caring guys,” she said. “They struggled.”

Nebbe would like to see boys have an opportunity to have fun exercising in a supportive environment.

“If being in competitive sports makes them feel that way, that’s terrific,” she said. “If competitive sports are not for them, I also want to see places where those kids can feel comfortable and move their bodies and be strong and healthy without feeling like they’re being judged for not being as fast and strong as other kids.”

Monday’s meeting is open to people who have boys interested in running, potential coaches and others who want to support the program. Nebbe hopes to have scholarships for boys whose families can’t afford the registration fee.

IF YOU GO

What: Informational meeting about Let Me Run program for boys

When: 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23

Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.

Details: Let me Run is a seven-week program for preteen and teen boys that focuses on wellness and well-being, including respect, positive competition and expression of ideas and feelings — all while training for a 5K run. Organizers are looking for 10 schools in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids or the surrounding area to commit to having a team in the fall. Coaches would be trained in April. The meeting is open to people who have boys interested in running, potential coaches and others who want to support the program.

Info: letmerun.org

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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