Now entering its third year, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schenectady County has hosted the Schenectady Youth Marathon (SYM). To date, over one-hundred youth have completed the SYM with the support of numerous volunteers. Youth completing the SYM report increased fitness levels, as well as decreased time spent on the Internet, playing video games, and watching television. In addition to the fitness component, youth receive nutrition information based on the USDA “My Pyramid” program, and report a greater understanding of nutritional issues.
The idea is simple; between June 1st and August 31st, youth agree to run or walk a minimum of one mile on twenty-six different occasions and must maintain a running log which records date, time and distance. All participants must have an adult partner to provided supervision and verify that all run/walks were completed. Youth can measure distance in any number of ways; either with a pedometer (which was included in a race packet provided to all participants), running/walking on one of the many mapped courses in Schenectady County, using a local school track, or by using the “Golden Rule” – twenty minutes equals a mile. In addition to the pedometer, al participants an official Schenectady Youth Marathon t-shirt, a wealth of fitness and nutrition tips, and a journal. Once twenty-six runs or walks are logged, youth can redeem their log for a gift card to a local sporting goods store and for a certificate recognizing their achievement. However, once completed, youth are still encouraged to participate, as the youth in each age group (5-6, 7-8, 9-10) with the most logged miles on September 1st will receive a grand prize, a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to a local sports store