By Steve Mosco
Youngsters from PS 305 in Ridgewood burned rubber and chased down their fitness dreams at the New York Road Runners Youth Jamboree — having fun and getting fit along the way.
At the biggest Jamboree in the event’s nine-year history, more than 3,000 kids participated in running, jumping and throwing under the watchful and proud eyes of their parents Saturday at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in Manhattan.
The Youth Jamboree is all about fun and friendly competition, driving home important messages about exercise, health and fitness to both children and their parents.
“The program helps keep kids motivated to keep walking, keep moving and stay physically fit and relate those messages back to their parents,” said Jordan Patinkin, program administration coordinator for the Mighty Milers, a youth program coordinated by the NYRR and based in Manhattan. “The Jamboree lets those parents come out, gets the community involved and lets the kids not only have fun, but show off what they’ve learned in school.”
While young athletes from all five boroughs flocked to the event, Ridgewood’s PS 305, at 378 Seneca Ave., boasted more kids than any other school — more than 140 children from kindergarten through ninth-grade showed off their skills at the Jamboree.
Peter Cantalupo, a physical education teacher at PS 305, said these youth programs are exciting and vibrant ways in which parents can give their children the opportunity to stay in shape and have fun doing it.
The physical education teacher is also involved in Learners and Leaders in Queens, an early childhood program serving pre-K through second-grade that provides nurturing development through healthy choices.
“In Ridgewood, the social economic status is not the greatest and so it’s hard to find free events for our children. It’s absolutely wonderful to allow these children to get an experience that they wouldn’t get on their own,” said Cantalupo, with the sound of active, enthused children blaring in the background. “It’s great to bring these programs to our children and start them early in physical fitness — get them early, keep them fit and fight obesity.”
Two Ridgewood kids learning all about fitness at an early age are third-grader Amanda and first-grader Michelle. Their mom, Miladros Cruz said the programs run by the Road Runners offer more than trophies — her girls learn fitness lessons they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
“This is not about ribbons, it’s about having fun and staying fit,” said Cruz, whose daughters both want to come back next year.
For young runners too eager to wait until next year, NYRR will hold its next Jamboree event at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island April 28.
For more information, visit nyrrf.org.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.