AFTER A successful first year, The Run Beyond Project is back in the Nambucca Valley for another round with a new group of local school students.
Spearheaded in the area by Michelle Versluys and Chris Barnes, along with the help of Urunga athletic star Karlie Swanson, the program aims to mentor young people and teach them valuable lifelong skills.
"The program teaches commitment, resilience, goal setting and a sense of teamwork; we use a combination of theory and running to build those skills", Michelle told the Guardian.
"I've already seen a change in most of our students; they are more focussed and enthusiastic at school."
"The whole program is a beautiful combination of education and fitness, as a teacher I can definitely see the benefits in The Run Beyond Project," Chris said.
Korby Rennie, Victor Doherty, and Ryley Smith are among the new participants for this year, and the three Nambucca Heads High School students are enjoying the journey to self-improvement.
"Run beyond to me means learning to be consistent, and showing up every week, I like it because it keeps me fit and active," Korby said.
"I'm enjoying learning about new things and meeting new people," Victor said.
"I'm liking run beyond because it's teaching us commitment and resilience, each week we practice and try to run further than the week before," Ryley said.
"We've already reached 5.5km, it was hard, but our next goal is 6km."
The ultimate objective is to run a 'Goal Race', which will put all the participants training and new athletic gear, provided by the program, to the test.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the first option for a 'Goal Race' was cancelled, but in a true showing of one of the key concepts of the program, resilience, the students haven't let the setback discourage them.
"At the moment, we are trying to get them up to at least 8km while we look for another Goal Race," Chris said.
"The level of enthusiasm is excellent; I've been running with them every week, and most of them can already run 6 km no dramas, which is a big achievement for people so young."
Run Beyond was founded by marathon enthusiast, David Criniti, who in 2015, decided to challenge a group of students to go beyond their limits and train for a half marathon.
The program took off, with schools across NSW and Queensland now using it to help young people progress towards a goal, and learn skills that can help them excel in all areas of their lives.
For more information on The Run Beyond Project, click here.