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Marathon Kids, MommiNation challenge moms and kids to get moving in July

Sanya Richards-Ross meets with kids at Brooke Elementary School in 2017 to encourage physical fitness. Now the Olympian is trying to encourage moms to be active with their children through a partnership between her MommiNation and Marathon Kids.

Austin-based Marathon Kids is teaming up with MommiNation, an online community led by Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross and business woman Mykal Steen, to get more moms moving with their kids.

Marathon Kids celebrated its 25th year of motivating kids to start running last school year. It now encourages kids across the country to run the equivalent of four marathons a year.

MommiNation, which also was founded in Austin and has national reach, is specifically a community for Black moms but welcomes all mothers.

"Our community is really intentional about supporting Black moms while also being inclusive," says Richards-Ross. "If you want to learn about the Black experience — Black moms are having a unique experience and need to be supported in every way — we love to expose our experiences with everyone."

MommiNation has been doing a twice-a-year, 30-day Fit Mommi Challenge. The next challenge launches July 5. This year will include a weekly "Walk and Talk" from Marathon Kids as part of the challenge.

Every Saturday morning, for four weeks, a different "Walk and Talk" will be offered. It will be live in the MommiNation app and on Instagram. Each week a different MommiNation mom will lead a conversation that parents can have with their children while they are walking or running. Some of the topics will include going back to school in the fall and being prepared for life after a pandemic.

Often Marathon Kids provides experiences with athletes such as Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross. Now Marathon Kids and Richards-Ross' MommiNation are teaming up to create weekly "Walk and Talk" fitness events in July for parents and kids.

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This is a great time to do a "Walk and Talk" with kids, says Cami Hawkins, the CEO of Marathon Kids. Kids can reclaim some of the social emotional learning they lost because of the pandemic, she says. "It's a natural way to do that in a fun environment," she says.

The pairing of Marathon Kids and MommiNation is a "perfect match for us to apply that message of getting kids active early and following the footsteps of the best role models," Hawkins says.

"Anytime we can get the whole family involved, we love that," she says. She says she hopes that MommiNation's moms will want to start Marathon Kids groups in their schools or clubs in their communities. "The more moms in our corner, the better we are," Hawkins says. 

Like Marathon Kids, which inspires kids to run through a collective experience, MommiNation's 30-day fitness challenge is about creating a collective fitness experience online. Live activities happen three or four times a week. Women post their progress and encourage one another throughout the month. There will be awards for moms who lead the Fit Mommi Challenge.

Marathon Kids has created a program around kids running a marathon over the course of a year. In the past, like in 2013, it has had a big kickoff event. Marathon Kids is trying to keep kids active in summer by teaming up with MommiNation for its Fit Mommi Challenge in July.

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Summertime is a great time for families to focus on fitness. People often talk about the summer slide in relation to academic learning loss during the summer, but the same thing is true with fitness, Hawkins says. Kids are missing the physical activity they get at recess and through physical education classes.

Kids who become involved with Marathon Kids can be transformed, Hawkins says. "The most amazing thing about Marathon Kids is the sense of confidence it builds in them," Hawkins says. "They accomplished the goals they set out to accomplish."

For the moms who do the Fit Mommi Challenge, Richards-Ross says, it is "mind-blowing from where they start and where they finish." Yes, it's about the fitness, Richards-Ross says, but "they find their purpose again; they find themselves again. It is truly a beautiful experience." 

More information

To find out how to become a Marathon Kid, go to marathonkids.org.

To join MommiNation and the Fit Mommi Challenge, go to mommination.com.