GO FAR is a fun and comprehensive fitness program for elementary school-aged children which promotes physical activity, healthy eating and good character. This program is located in High Point, North Carolina.
GO FAR History
In 2003, the GO FAR (Go Out For A Run) program was created by Robin Hale-Lindsay MS, PA-C, Director of Student Health at High Point University and a High Point University graduate student. GO FAR is an outreach program that addresses an important, timely, and newsworthy issue--childhood obesity and inactivity among children. I hold a master's degree in sports medicine and have a focused interest in nutrition and physical activity. I have been a Physician Assistant for over 18 years and worked in the non-profit sector for the majority of my career.
GO FAR is a 10-week program designed for elementary school-aged children. The GO FAR program teaches children:
The importance of exercise and staying physically active.
Good nutrition and healthy snacking.
How good character applies to a successful life.
How to set goals, train, and complete a
5 kilometer road race.
GO FAR was initiated in 2003 for several reasons:
The growing epidemic of childhood obesity and general inactivity among children. Statistics from the CDC in 1999-2002 show that 15.8% of children ages 6-11 are overweight as compared to 4.0% from 1971-1974 (CDC 2005).
My previous clinical experience at the Community Clinic of High Point, a local clinic that treats the indigent population, exposed me to many patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Many chronic diseases are directly linked to unhealthy behaviors and obesity.
A disturbing trend was noted among our own young adult students at High Point University where I currently work as Director of Student Health and Physician Assistant. Overweight students are presenting with early signs of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other health related issues.
Concern over the growing cost of health care.
Noting the above trends it was apparent that an intervention would be required earlier on in a person’s life to change these unhealthy behaviors.
GO FAR Accomplishments
The expanding popularity of the GO FAR program would seem to evidence the unmet need the program is meeting in the community. A number of program accomplishments include:
GO FAR collaborates with local schools and clubs such as the YMCA, YWCA, and the Boys and Girls Club of High Point.
The annual GO FAR 5K race draws hundreds of community children and their families to this festive and family oriented event.
The GO FAR program and the 5K event generally involve media exposure. In 2005, 2 local television stations, 2 radio stations and 3 separate newspapers reported on GO FAR.
National exposure. Interested individuals from Washington State, North Dakota and Connecticut have expressed an interest in the GO FAR program after a recent article appeared in a national newspaper about GO FAR.
GO FAR Goals
The short term goals of GO FAR include continuing to provide the GO FAR program to interested schools and holding a successful annual 5K event.
Long Term goals include providing GO FAR statewide and nationwide and developing:
• a program for children younger than 8 years of age
• a program for children over the age of 13
• a short, instructional video for GO FAR coordinators
• a professional website.
Who GO FAR serves in the community and how running is utilized in the program
To date, GO FAR has been made available on an annual basis to 13 elementary schools and 2 after school clubs. GO FAR provides the copyrighted GO FAR Coordinator Handbook to interested PE teachers or educators who then follow a weekly curriculum. Boys and girls in the program meet twice weekly during which time different healthy topics are introduced and games are played to reinforce healthy behavior. Each child in the program receives a GO FAR Logbook, with reinforcing questions and brainteasers about the information provided at each session. The logbook's questions emphasize healthy lifestyles. These children are taught life lessons that will serve them forever.
Another significant part of the GO FAR program is the training that takes place to prepare for a 5K event. Throughout the weekly instructional and training sessions of the 10-week program, the children are able to gradually increase their running endurance. At the culmination of the 10 week program, the children participate in a 5-kilometer road race. This annual 5K event is a celebration of each child's success. In addition, each child is encouraged to invite family members to participate in the GO FAR 5K event. Each child who completes the 5K is honored at the end of the race with a GO FAR medal.
Schools or clubs that are unable to participate in the annual GO FAR 5K event at High Point University due to distance have been permitted to hold their own GO FAR 5K events.
Since inception, the program has grown from 16 children participating from a single elementary school to over 600 participants annually including 12 schools and 2 after school clubs. The program is growing at a rapid pace. The annual 5K road race was recently held on November 11, 2006 and over 320 students and their families participated. This race is an excellent chance for people of different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to come together in support of the children.
Children who are minorities or are in low socioeconomic classes have the highest prevalence of obesity. (Family and Community Health: Oct-Dec 2006: 29 (4):288-98) Children of a variety of cultural backgrounds participated in GO FAR including African-American, Hispanic, Middle- Eastern and Asian. Many of these schools have children from low socioeconomic classes. In 4 of the schools, all the children who participated were from under-privileged families.
One of the schools that participates in the GO FAR program works with children who are physically and mentally challenged. In 2005, a young man who is legally blind completed the GO FAR program and ran in the race with the assistance of a teacher.
Physical education teachers, parent volunteers, university student mentors help implement the 10 week GO FAR program each spring and fall during the school year.
In 1999, I started running marathons. Eating healthy and a rigorous training schedule are essential to run a successful marathon. Overcoming the mental challenge to complete this training is most rewarding. It has been evident to me since I began this type of training how important and motivating it is to set and reach goals. There is nothing more satisfying than setting a goal, challenging oneself, working hard to accomplish the challenge and then completing the goal. This sense of accomplishment and pride is what I see on the faces of these young children who participate in the GO FAR program and complete the 5k race. I have witnessed the joy on a child’s face when they cross a finish line completing their first 5K event – It is quite inspiring.
I welcome the opportunity to distribute the GO FAR program beyond the local community.
GO FAR Website:: http://www.highpoint.edu/campuslife/health/gofar/