A Q&A with Stephen Hocker, Executive Director of Teens Run DC.
How did Teens Run DC (TRDC) start?
Founded in 2009, TRDC began at Wilson Senior High School with 19 students and 7 teachers. Since then, TRDC has grown from a pilot project to a nationally-recognized organization with innovative and research-driven programming, now serving nearly 500 middle and high school students at eight partner schools throughout the District of Columbia through our curriculum-based approach that employs running, mentoring, and social emotional learning.
What are TRDC's program offerings?
Teens Run DC is the only program for DC's middle and high school students focused on health and wellbeing that supports students academically, physically, and socially, both in and out of school. The organization's founding beliefs that (1) positive change and growth occur within the context of long-term, caring relationships and a welcoming community; and (2) bolstering the physical, social, and emotional well-being of at-risk youth leads to lasting achievement in academics and beyond, and continues to shape the vision and direction of the organization. Our program promotes the physical and mental health of at-risk youth in some of DC's most underserved communities through three key program offerings:
1) Mentoring: TRDC's coaches and volunteer mentors provide consistent guidance to our students and serve as positive role models. Coaches are at each school two days per week and volunteer mentors work alongside coaches during Saturday practices.
2) Social Emotional Learning (SEL): SEL tools are critical for healthy transitions into adulthood, but underserved youth often lack the support to develop these skills. Students meet with coaches for four one-hour sessions each week to learn skills from the SEL curriculum.
3) Running and Physical Activity: In TRDC's distance running program, students develop personal fitness goals. With the help of our coaches, they improve cardiovascular fitness by engaging in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical exercise each week. Our weekday programming is complemented by Saturday practices and races that attract community members to come out and support our students.