TESTIMONIALS

Program Results

Throughout our first year in 2013, we had 18 successful program completions. One year after completing the program, only one participating youth had reoffended. This proves the efficacy of our program and is the first step toward our goal to help lower the overall recidivism rate within the juvenile justice system in Texas.

Program Research

The success stories and promising trends on lowering recidivism and decreasing the effects of health-compromising behaviors in at-risk youth called for a similar intervention/prevention program to be developed, which led to the creation of Run Free Texas. Several groups focused on running and walking have been implemented in various places throughout the nation. One of them is the Running Free Program, whose members are incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility. The program started in 2007 and strives to help female inmates learn to cope with the stressors of life and to ease their transition back to the outside world. Participants of the program had the opportunity to participate in a public health perspective project in 2011. Top-ranked benefits of the program are increased self-esteem, improved confidence, better self-discipline, increased goal-setting, and a lowering of the overall recidivism rate of the participants. Since the creation of Running Free in 2007, only one participant has returned to the prison system out of the approximately 200 who have been released. This is a recidivism rate of 0.5% within the participant population. A similar program was launched in January 2012 at the Hiland Mountain Women’s Correctional Center in Alaska as part of a research project to measure the impact of a structured running program on mental health. The data is still preliminary but an overall positive response to the program has been noticed.

Program Acknowledgements

Testimonials

From past Run Free Texas participants

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More from Program Participants and Their Families

“Run Free Texas has been a great outlet for my son, and not just physical. He enjoys running but has trouble pushing himself to do better. Since day one, I noticed the strong positive support that has helped him find strength within himself. He has told me about sometimes talking to his running partner about things that bother him and received positive support for that as well. My son wants to continue with Run Free so he can be a mentor to other kids using the positive model he has been shown. I can’t say enough good things about Run Free Texas and I am so glad he got to experience it!”

—Parent of 14-year-old male


“Run Free Texas means to me to have a new chance, to show people that I can change! Showing people that I am trying to change the bad image of myself. It is also very fun and awesome to have a second family!”

—Youth, 16 years old


“Sometimes I don’t feel like coming because I am so stressed out with school but I show up. When I am done running I feel better!”

—Youth, 17 years old

“Thank you ladies for all y’all have done for my child! I truly believe the program made a big difference in her self-value! Thanks!”

—Parent of participating youth


“The Run Free Texas program has been a very positive and influential experience for my son. This program has empowered him with the belief that he can pursue something and accomplish any goal he sets his mind on. He speaks highly of Ms. Miranda and Ms. Sabine and feels guilty when he is unable to make it to practice. Because of the dark place my son has come from being on probation and having to complete community service, I feel that this program has just become a personal and happy life experience for him, not an obligation to amend his past poor behavior. Thank you for being positive role models and just good people to my son and to me. We both benefitted from the Run Free Texas program. Thank you!”

—Parent of 10-year-old male


“Run Free Texas has saved one of our youth’s life by not giving up on them and doing what they do!”

—Williamson County judge

“As my child progressed mentally and physically, the progress of Run Free Texas was pretty evident. The mission is amazing, the hearts and dedication of the staff are phenomena,l and I am extremely grateful and happy that the time was devoted personally to impacting my child on so many levels. I must say it should be an impact extension in his overall life. My sincere thanks!”

—Parent of participating youth


“I want to thank you guys for a job well done. I think my child has made progress; the attitude has been better and I feel my child will do good.”

—Parent of participating youth


“Run Free Texas means I have to leave work early once a week to drive my son to his weekday run. But Run Free teaches my son about dedication, responsibility, teamwork, and inspires him to dig deep within himself to achieve!”

—Parent of participating youth

Success Stories: Meet Garet

We first met Garet in April 2013. Due to some poor choices at the time, he was referred to our program by his probation officer. Garet hated to run; over the course of 12 weeks, we either kept encouraging him or flat out ignored his multiple attempts to get kicked out of the program. Even though he didn’t care for running, he did not miss a single practice and always showed up on time. He completed his first 5K community race in June 2013. He ran the entire race and did not stop! Garet handed us flowers and a personalized card after he crossed the finish line. We were extremely proud of his determination to finish strong and his kind gesture.

“Run Free Texas is a great program. It has two mentors that are extremely supportive and motivating. In the program I learned to push myself harder than I usually do. I loved the program and the two ladies that run it!”

We were surprised when we heard back from Garet’s father in September 2013. His father advised that Garet would like to participate in our program again. Garet’s probation had transferred from Williamson County to Travis County and he told his new probation officer about Run Free Texas and how much he would like to participate in our program. After some due diligence, Run Free Texas was accepted as an official program by Travis County. We could not wait to see Garet and learn what he had been up to since program completion. In November 2013 Garet reported once again to our first practice. He showed up with a big smile and told us over the next couple of weeks how well he had been doing since completing our first program. He was back at his home campus, passing all of his classes, had asked to be an assistant coach for a little league basketball team, and was allowed to join the varsity wrestling team.

“I was an angry, mean teenager back when you first met me, but you stuck with me and supported me! I still don’t like to run but I like the program and the people that run it.”

This time around, Garet ran without any complaining and encouraged other struggling youth throughout the program. In January 2014, Garet completed yet another Run Free Texas program and asked to come back as a mentor for a third time. Motivated by his success, Garet has now voluntarily returned to Run Free Texas three more times as a mentor to our incoming youth. His home and school life has improved. He graduated from high school and today is enrolled in college and works as a manager at a local fast-food restaurant. He has steered clear of the justice system since he became part of our running family.