Why We Rock!

In response to the challenges faced by our community’s young people, We ROCK has been organized for the purpose of designing an educational, after-school, intervention program for Middle and High School students in the Orange County area, focused on the endurance sport of running.

Participation in the program is open to both girls and boys, ages 12 thru 18, on a non-restrictive basis without regard to race, creed, sexual orientation, religious belief, physical capacity or nationality. The program promotes a team atmosphere to provide support and encouragement to the participants, however there are no try-outs to qualify for the program, and all results are measured exclusively on an individual basis without the requirement for any minimum ranking in order to remain in the program.

The educational program provided by We ROCK involves not only instruction on physical fitness and nutrition but includes an adult mentoring component as well. While the sport of running is the most tangible activity of the program, the underlying lessons we deliver to the student runners are those of goal setting, personal discipline, and the perseverance required to accomplish the goals that have been established.

Through the implementation of the We ROCK program, we seek to generally improve the lives of our community’s teenagers and alleviate as many of the problems faced by these adolescents as possible. In order to meet these broad objectives, the We ROCK organization has a number of specific goals, namely:

To improve physical health

Medical research proves that running and other forms of regular physical exercise boost the immune system and help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart & cardiovascular disease. Statistics also show that ffrequent physical activity is known to increase levels of nerve growth factors that support the survival and regeneration of a number of neuronal cells, promoting improved cognitive brain function. In other words, running can lead to a healthier life, as well as improved grades. The We ROCK program promotes the physical health of its participants by providing a structured, conservatively progressive, physical training program designed to safely prepare its teeange particpants for the completion of a 26.2 marathon, and in the process, enable them to become more physically and mentally fit.

To improve psychological health

Studies show that aerobic activities increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, improving mental health and preventing depression and other mood disorders. Because running is one of the most aerobic forms of exercise available, the We ROCK program helps to reduce our participants’ stress and anxiety, and generally help to improve their outlook on life. Recent research also indicates that participation in group activities such as after-school sports can help curtail feelings of self-doubt and self-consciousness among adolescents. By providing a team atmosphere, the We ROCK program helps to create a sense of “belonging” among the team members and enables them to encourage and motivate each other toward accomplishing a common and difficult goal. Further, because of the additional support provided by their coaches and parents, teenagers who are involved in supervised after-school activities experience decreases in their feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Because the We ROCK program is particularly geared toward incremental and steady successes, with each milestone built upon the previous, our youth runners experience increased levels of self-confidence thus bolstering their feelings of self-worth and resulting in greater self-esteem.

To develop personal character

While the activity of running provides numerous physical and mental health benefits, the training for, and completion of, a 26.2 mile marathon in particular is an endeavor that requires significant planning, preparation and discipline. Not only does the We ROCK program offer ongoing education and exposure to health issues, physical fitness and proper marathon training, but the activity itself builds character by teaching our communitiy’s youth how to set and achieve difficult goals. We ROCK participants learn, first-hand, that in order to reach a lofty objective, one must have a sustained commitment, personal discipline and the perseverance to follow through with their plans in order to reach the desired end. As long as the student runners have a positive mental attitude and a desire to succeed, We ROCK provides the roadmap by which they can, and will, complete a 26.2 mile marathon. While crossing the marathon finish line will is the most exciting and tangible benefit of participating in the We ROCK program, the true reward is developing the traits of self-reliance and self-confidence along the way.

To promote good habits into adulthood

The physical demands required to complete a marathon can be quite daunting. With only 1% of the total American population ever accomplishing such a feat, adolescent marathoners constitute an even smaller and more elite segment of our country’s citizenry. But as amazing a physical challenge as completing a marathon may be, especially for a teenager, the real victory comes with the epiphany that with hard work and persistence, most any goal can be accomplished. Statistics show that Secondary students who have learned to set and achieve positive goals at a young age will generally have greater success in their careers in college and in the workplace. Subconsciously, the entire We ROCK training season becomes a metaphor for life, and while the student runners experience a plethora of emotions on marathon day, the recognition that they have completed a marathon simply because they did not give up make very few other challenges in life seem too difficult to overcome. In this way, the We ROCK program promotes personal growth and self-awareness for each and every one of its participants.

By providing Orange County’s youth with the opportunity, tools, proper training and encouragement to complete a 26.2 mile marathon, We ROCK’s activities help serve the public interest by creating happier, healthy youth who will become more productive citizens both today and in their adult futures.