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Head In The Game Grantee Spotlight: Run4Fun (New York)

Read about Nicoletta's experiences with running and why she set up Run4Fun, to support young New Yorkers

Mom, Coach and Founder, Nicoletta’s ‘Run4Fun’ envisions wellness through play

Panagiotis had an undeniable love for running but grappled with anxiety around competition as a child. Running together with his mom, Nicoletta, was always an opportunity for them to bond, and on these occasions, she encouraged him to join a running club; he had one condition – that she would be his coach. Nicoletta accepted the challenge and took Panagiotis and his friends to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for a fun run every Friday, with no emphasis on performance.

Nicoletta soon realized that many young people faced similar hurdles when it came to feeling safe while participating in sports, especially in highly competitive environments. This inspired her to create a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere that focused on team-building through games. The Friday run soon became “Run4Fun,” which later evolved into a non-profit organization dedicated to helping countless youth discover their passion and talent for running. Today, Run4Fun engages with over 2,000 young people across New York City each year.

In a city where certain groups grapple with limited access to physical activities, Run4Fun steps in to make a difference. The organization offers a safe haven for young people, with a significant number of girls and young women, and individuals from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Participants often face issues like depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, with body image struggles being particularly daunting for young girls.

“Running is such a powerful tool that has not only saved many young people’s lives, but even my own. It has helped with overcoming challenges with my mental health and depression. And I’ve seen that coming through in the young people that we serve… running really comes through as ‘play’.”

Nicoletta Nerangis, Founder, Run4Fun

More about Run4Fun

Run4Fun developed a specialized curriculum for female-identifying youth, available in both in-person and online formats, for use during and after school hours. The program boosts girls’ self-esteem, promotes positive body image and develops skills that foster healthy self-relationships and relationships with others. Sessions include themed discussions, fun running games, team-building activities, cool-down exercises and reflection time. To date, over 500 girls in high schools and elementary schools have benefited from this unique curriculum.

Community Partnerships

Run4Fun delivers its programs in schools and within communities, thanks to partnerships with schools and community organizations. Collaborations include New Destiny Housing, which supports domestic violence survivors, and A Place for Kids, which serves immigrant and low-income children. By working closely with community partners, including social workers, teachers and site directors, Run4Fun remains dedicated to addressing the specific needs of its participants.

To learn more about the ‘Head in the Game’ Program click here.